The Rising and Advancing of A Silver Age Titan
by "John Jones, the Manhunter from Marathon, IL"
& Jeff Clem
with additional comments and annotation by !!!
(that’s right! The Man Himself! So there!)
All email sent to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org will be read by Yr. Humble Author, and probably even responded to fairly quickly, unless, of course, you're rude, snotty, or just plain stupid, and trust me, I get those emails a lot, especially from Bradford Wright. Truly devoted fans of this column, demented though they inarguably are (not to mention non-existent) can web surf right on over to:
for some... er... weird stuff, and brilliant, comics oriented artwork, respectively.
Those who want yet another extended dose of Martian Vision-style bibble-babble, however, should strap themselves in, as we embark on a bold cruise through:
- Prologue -
A funny thing happened as I was finishing this article. Not ha-ha funny, nor even bizarre funny, but... well, okay, it was kind of bizarre. But good bizarre. Very good bizarre, given the conventional context of the overflowing idiocy I normally produce under the guise of a Martian Vision article.
Basically, as this article is all about my personal hero and comics writing role model/deity Steve Englehart, and as I have Steve E.'s email address (for reasons I'll detail below) and as I'd already made the email acquaintance of Jeff Clem, arguably the greatest living fan authority on Steve E.'s work (and Steve's acknowledged sidekick on at least one occasion, during at least one con, which I suppose would make him Kid Stainless, or Steveboy, or something), I decided to send them a copy of this article to look over and get back to me regarding, if they so chose. No biggie; I've done it in the past with a few other pros I knew, all of whom had, previous to this, either not replied or tossed off a terse 'sorry, I don't have time to read this, I'm sure it's fine' response.
A week or so later, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but responses from Jeff, and Steve E., without peer! (Okay, I forced a rhyme there. Sue me.)
So, naturally, having gotten responses back from not only Steveboy, The Fan Authority on Stainless Steve, but... >gulp< The Man Himself... well, I had little choice but to prepare a whole new draft, with those comments and annotations added appropriately, along with my own rambling, addle-witted comments as are inspired by those comments and annotations (as with their notes on Valkyrie, which I totally disagree with, and which we'll get to).
All of which means that this article is no longer merely a typical exercise in comics related bullshit by Your Humble Author, as the five or six of you who regularly read this column have come to expect. No, it had become, as Rob Reiner put it at the start of THIS IS SPINAL TAP, "...more. Much more." It had become... well, by God, it had become more or less a collaboration. All of which is why the additional names appear in the credit line, up above, and why this article will probably be the only Martian Vision article ever produced that has any real worth as an actual scholarly or historical document.
So now, a note on the annotation:
***STEVE E. SEZ:
My comments are in red. ***
That was the opening to Steve E.'s response to me, in which he thoughtfully shot back the entire article, with his comments interspersed throughout, as he sagely notes, in red. Unfortunately, by the time this goes through endless redrafting and emailing and web posting, there's no telling how a color-coding will convert itself, so what I've done is, I've set off Steve's comments on the article with, as you can see above, the title "STEVE E. SEZ". I’m also putting them in bold right NOW, but as I say, I have no idea if that will survive eventual reformatting and web-posting. Similarly, I've set off Jeff Clem's work, in a burst of startling originality, with the title "JEFF CLEM SEZ", as well as putting his stuff in italics, at least, at this moment. I will also, as seen above, set off their annotation passages with three asterisks (***) just to keep anyone from confusing their concise, incisive commentary from my long winded, often daffy, and clearly over-caffeinated bibble-babble.
Now, this wasn't as easy as you think, but what the hell, YOU don't care. You just get to read the thing.
All right! If we're all clear on the above stuff, then let's Face Front, True Believer! Martian Vision Marches On!
As Steve E. himself once said: "End Prologue, beginning of Logue"...
(Or maybe it was Steve Gerber.)
- Continuation of Prologue, or perhaps, Prologue 2 -
Whether it was Steve E. or Steve G., in this case, it's a damned lie. Why a lie, you cry, my my? Well, because:
***JEFF CLEM SEZ:
Anyway, damn good article in that it makes me want to
read more of what you might have to say about those
items you don't have... I'm tempted to send you an Englehart care
package so that we can get some more stuff from you.***
And the saintly fellow did it, too; said care package arriving on my humble doorstep (okay, it actually got stuffed into the lockers in the apartment complex lobby where the mail-person puts packages, but that doesn't sound as good) on Christmas Eve, and while Jeff didn't intend it as a Christmas present, it was quite the nicest one I got this year or last. A list of the Totally Cool Englehart stuff Jeff sent me in the package would be counterproductive, because then I'd have to note each of the spots in the ensuing article where I'm now about to go in and take out 'duh, Darren not know about this Steve Englehart story, Darren am stooooopid, just kill Darren now' comments, and put in my usual amazingly incisive and utterly obnoxious commentary instead, because Jeff Clem sent me this huge package of stuff! Awesome stuff. Cool stuff. Amazing stuff. Stuff that demonstrates a remarkably generous nature on Jeff Clem's part, for which, if there is any justice in the universe whatsoever, he will have another 2.7 houris assigned to the facilitation of his eternal pleasure in paradise, at least 1.4 of whom will look just like Katie Holmes, or some other WB hottie of his choice (although if he doesn't pick Katie Holmes I honestly see no hope for the guy).
So, I thank you, Jeff, you're a gentleman and a scholar and a really cool human being. Whether anyone else will thank you for allowing me to rattle off at the keyboard even more than I could before, only history can safely judge.
Okay, NOW we're getting into the damned article, I faithfully promise. This is the end of the frickin' Prologues!
- Prologue 3, for those who are keeping track -
Did I say I was done writing prologues? I lied.
(Hey, Stainless Steve uses nearly exactly that same caption at the end of an issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA; I can steal it here.)
The thing of it is, is, it's Jeff Clem's fault, because he sent me ANOTHER box of Englehart stuff, and this one contains a stack about three inches thick of Xeroxed Englehart interview material, as well as a whole bunch of Englehart's other obscure stuff I hadn't read previously, like some short monster stories for Marvel horror mags, and... well, just a buncha new stuff, which, now that I've read, I'll have to add commentary on to this article, and after I do that, I'll have to send the new draft out to Jeff and Stainless Steve, to see if they want to add anything. Which, you never know, they might, and then what they add might occasion more commentary from me... but let's not look down that road right now.
As things stand now, this article is becoming... interestingly layered... to say the least. And who knows, maybe someday it will actually be something approximating finished... but that time, as Steve E. also noted in a different place, is not this time.
(actual passages from the original bibliography supplied by Mr. Englehart will be set off, as above, by **, mostly because if I just use * this idiotic WPing program puts the intervening text in bold, which won't survive ASCII reformatting on its way into HTML... and the Cistercians never had these problems with illuminated manuscripts, I bet. I’m also bolding the bibliography stuff and putting it in another font – Eurostar – but have no idea what you’ll be seeing by the time you read this.)
One of the few real pleasures and rewards of writing this nonsense, along with the continuing friendship of fine folks like this column's publisher and most ardent supporter, Steve Tice, is that every once in a while I hear from some professional whose work I've commented on, who has actually read my exasperating drivel regarding his work and been moved to respond to me in some way. This is always a thrill for me even when the response is obnoxiously arrogant and mind bogglingly stupid, as with Bradford Wright, or seems to be motivated primarily from a desire to 'correct' some 'mistake' I've made, as when a comics pro who will remain nameless wrote me to assure me that he had never never NEVER said anything bad about a particular big name comics artist he had been forced to work with, that this particular big name artist's execrable non-artwork had NOT been the reason he had withdrawn from a long term writing assignment on one of his all time favorite superheroes, and I had obviously simply imagined the letter I'd seen from him to another comics pro whom I was friends with at the time, stating all of this quite explicitly.
However, probably the greatest thrill I've had in this infrequent catalogue of feedback from real, actual comics pros was hearing from the man whose comic book writing I admire most, namely, Stainless Steve Englehart. Mr. Englehart first wrote me more than a year ago, and his notes, although they're always understandably brief, are also always cordial, gentlemanly, and pleasant, which is a lot more than I can say for some big name pros whom, again, I won't name, although one of them writes ASTRO CITY and absolutely cannot take the slightest little bit of criticism from Yours Truly at all without going completely ballistic.
Anyway, Mr. Englehart's contacts have been sporadic, but always at the very least polite, and hell, he could actually heap idiotic, mindlessly arrogant, utterly wit-free Bradford Wright-like abuse on me if he liked and I'd still be thrilled to get occasional email from a guy I regard as being quite simply the best characterization writer in the history of superhero funny books, and the premiere writing talent of the entire Silver Age. For that matter, I'd put Englehart's work on DR. STRANGE, just as one example, up against the very best the Modern Age has ever produced (by which I mean, a lot of Alan Moore's work and Neil Gaiman's SANDMAN) and I think it would comport itself quite creditably, while leaving nearly every other slacker-at-the-keyboard who has written comics since, oh, 1978 or so, coughing in the dust. And so it was that I was thoroughly delighted a while back to have Mr. Englehart send me what I consider to be an utterly priceless document: an extensively annotated bibliography, compiled by he himself, of all his published work in comics to date.
Said bibliography is the document I plan to use as the framework and skeleton for this article, as I work my way through it and graffiti it thoroughly with my own muddle-headed ravings as to What It All Means To Me.
First, let's take a look at:
It wasn't until I read this bibliography that I realized that apparently, one way for a writer... well, in this case, THE Writer, Da Man Himself... to break into work in comics was as a technical art assistant and infrequent penciller. While most of Englehart's artistic credits are as an 'art assistant', or doing 'backgounds' or the coloring chores, there are enough places above where Englehart lists himself as artist or penciller to make me realize, with a start, that apparently, the man can draw, at least, at some basic level considered adequate by a number of professional comics editors and publishers over the years. While I've never seen any of Steve E.'s art, and wouldn't hesitate (sight unseen) to assume he must be a MUCH better writer than he is an artist (or, you know, he'd have become more well known as a penciller than as the Greatest Superhero Comics Writer Of All Time) nonetheless, it's something of an education to me to see that the great Steve E. took this avenue into comics. I wonder if this was a common road to the scripter's chair during the Golden and Silver Ages, or if Steve E.'s experience was a relatively rare one? I've never heard of any other Silver Age writers of repute, such as Steve Gerber or Roy Thomas, for example, who drew, also, although now that I think of it, I can vaguely recall hearing that Stan Lee was not above doing his own pencils on desperate occasion, and I do recollect a particularly awful issue of MARVEL TEAM UP that was drawn by Jim Shooter. Or was it PETER PARKER? Whatever the case, if I'd known a good writer could break into comics doing lousy pencils, I'd have drawn up a shitty portfolio of my own long ago. Well, you live and learn...
***JEFF CLEM SEZ:
Shooter laid out most or all of his Legion tales in the 60s, he was also the artist on an issue or two of Peter Parker, Spectacular Spider-Man (#56 and/or 57?) and, believe it or don't, the Bill Mantlo-scripted Super Villain Team-Up #9. Shooter also did some art for Valiant, under the name Paul Creddick.***
I reproduce Jeff's comments, above, not because they say anything much about Steve Englehart's work, but simply to show how casual and complete his mastery of behind the scenes comics industry minutia is. Personally, I had no idea 'Paul Creddick' was actually Shooter. Jeff's contributions to this article that are actually about Steve E's work are invaluable, as you'll see a bit further down.
***STEVE E. SEZ:
I was considered adequate to a great extent because I was young, enthusiastic, vouched for by Neal Adams, at a time when there was lots of second- and third-level work to be had. And in fact I had a good sense of layout, which is to say, story-telling. But doing good artwork was still out ahead of me, and who knows if I would ever have reached it. In any event, when I got the chance to write, that worked better, and was better received by those editors, so I gave up on art. The sense of layout continues to serve me, in that I can imagine how I'd draw any story I write, so I don't ask for stuff that can't be done. Since I always work with artists in comics, I think it's a good thing to know what an artist has to face. But I wouldn't claim to be a capital-A Artist.
I know Marv Wolfman and Len Wein wanted to be artists, but I don't know how far they got. And Shooter did do some jobs. Otherwise, I'd say it's a rare route.***
To which Your Humble author will only dryly note that, yeah, being vouched for by Neal Adams was probably something of a door opener back in 1971. <grin>
All right, I'm going to break my above assertion in Prologue #2 about not detailing which things Jeff sent me and which he didn't. In the package, Jeff included a couple of romance comics, one with a story drawn by Steve E., and one with an "Anne Spencer" scripted stories in it. The artwork by Steve E. was... well, let's be kind and call it very very basic. The storytelling techniques seemed solid, but the grasp on anatomy was a little shaky, the layouts were wooden, and there wasn't even a vestigial attempt made to draw backgrounds, or really anything except to male and female figures exchanging dialogue, in the vast majority of the panels. It was better than I'd do, but, well... on the other hand, neither Steve E. nor I call ourselves artists, primarily, and let's leave it at that before I jam my foot further down my throat, hey?
The Anne Spencer story, which Steve E. won't note until I get back to his bibliography waaaaaay further on in this article, after an extensive discussion of the values of Don Heck and Bob Brown as artists (all you Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee fans take note and just skip on down), is called "I Can't Love Anyone!" and it's very nicely written... crisp dialogue, deft character work, it works quickly to an emotional climax and an interesting resolution, and best of all (from a pompous pedant's point of view, which is to say, mine, and no, a pedant is not someone who is aroused by children or feet, now pipe down and look it up, buddy) it's a story that, in its own minor way, is all about self actualization, enlightenment, and the rising and advancing of yet another grubby, shallow spirit to a slightly higher level of maturity. It's doubtless really pretentious to say this throwaway story foreshadows some of Englehart's greatest work in later classic arcs such as his DR. STRANGE, CAPTAIN AMERICA, and AVENGERS runs, but I'm not shy about being pretentious in an article only eight or nine people will ever actually read, so, it does, darn it!
Here we start getting into some areas I have a little more personal familiarity with. While my own comics work resume is, naturally, remarkably short and highly apocryphal (in that the well known comics pro I have some uncredited co-author credits with would deny our collaborations absolutely and unequivocally, were he asked) nonetheless, I have enough similar experiences here to understand that, indeed, collaborating even without credit can be a valid way to work one's way into the biz. Of course, this assumes that even if you don't get an official credit, you still become known to and acknowledged as a contributor by the pros you're working with, which unfortunately never happened to me, mostly due to my spectacularly poor choice in authorial partners. Still, I can see where this would be a good way to get into the biz, and in fact, even leaving aside my own experiences, I'm aware that, for example, Tom Peyer bootstrapped his way into a pro writing career (and has done some of the Modern Age's finest, if most largely unacknowledged, superhero work on titles like POWER OF THE ATOM and HOURMAN) by apprenticing himself early on to another Modern Age writing stalwart, Roger Stern. So, the notion that Englehart got a start giving uncredited, perhaps even unpaid, apprentice level help to various others a few rungs further up on the ladder doesn't surprise me at all, and doubtless, the whole time he was providing this assistance, he was busily acquiring invaluable tools of the trade he would later so commandingly demonstrate absolute mastery over.
However, the early career as an artistic assistant was probably of equal value to the development of the Silver Age's single finest writing talent. Englehart's artistic experience, heretofore unknown to me, would doubtless have been priceless to him in helping him to collaborate most successfully with the vast and varied legions of artists he has worked with over the course of his career, since, while it's a truism that the comics artist can draw anything, there are some things that no artist can draw well, and at least a few things that any artist will not be strong at.
Examples of this abound - Don Heck is one of the greatest visual storytellers in the history of sequential graphic melodrama, but he does not draw visual fantasy elements well, which has always handicapped his particular renderings in the particularly fantastic field of superhero comics. In the WATCHMEN universe where there are no superhero comics, I have little doubt that Don Heck is a legendary superstar of the pirate, cowboy, and private eye comics subgenres, but here in our particular timeline, ignorant boobs from, well, YOU, probably, right up through famous yet often idiotically opinionated folks like Harlan Ellison and Gary Groth, continue to trumpet Heck as 'the worst artist in the history of comic books' or some such rot... mostly because he does not Draw Comics The Jack Kirby Way, in a particular subgenre that, admittedly, Jack Kirby near singlehandedly created the entire visual vocabulary of.
**STEVE E. SEZ:
I love Don Heck. He was handed an incredibly difficult plot, double-sized, at the last minute--the final chapter of the Celestial Madonna epic--and it was a let-down after what had led up to it. But it was actually quite good in many ways, and far better than most people would have been able to turn in. This was in an era when pros *did* turn the job in, whatever they had to sacrifice to get there. And meanwhile, he had done beautiful work for me in earlier AVENGERS, and even better in even earlier AVENGERS and TALES TO ASTONISH and...***
Your Humble Author can only note here that first, Don Heck's work on, I believe, GS AVENGERS #4, the conclusion to the Celestial Madonna tale, was an amazing art job, especially given all the profoundly weird stuff going on in the issue. Englehart gets off some of his most existentially bizarre dialogue in this issue, such as the immortal line of a Priest of Pama to a rather bewildered Mantis "Do you not see you are meant to marry that tree?" I mean, you gotta love stuff like that, and Heck captured the utterly baffled 'exactly what hallucinogens have you ingested, buster' expression on Mantis' face beautifully, in a way that more fan favored artists like either of the Buscemas, or even Dave Cockrum, might not have handled so well.
Second, Don Heck had done some tremendous work with Steve E. prior to that; one stand out issue that immediately leaps to mind is an early one... I want to say #109, but I'm not sure... [NOTE: I originally had it wrong, Jeff Clem corrected me, so I corrected my notation; #109 is now accurate] where Englehart first introduces the character of Imus Champion, the ten foot tall glandular freak who drove himself physically to survive despite having a body too large for human habitation, and whose overwhelming will to mastery of himself and his environment led him to becoming one of the world's richest and most influential men... and, eventually, a supervillain, if not a very skillful one. This is one of my favorite AVENGERS stories ever, mostly because it showcases Hawkeye, gets him out of that awful 'air conditioned Steve Reeves' outfit he'd been running around in for far too long and back into the original Heck-designed togs where he belongs (in a sequence that showcases the mastery of naturalistic movement and motion that Heck is famous for; Heck didn't do fantasy elements well, but when it came to a normal person going through normal movements like changing their clothes, he was unparalleled in the field), and in the end gives us perhaps the most dazzling definition of Hawkeye's mastery of a bow ever put onto a comics page... when to keep Champion from triggering a nuclear bomb, Hawkeye strings his bow, takes aim, and fires in less than a second, and manages to hit Champion's bowstring, from a hundred yards away, WHILE IT IS IN MOTION, to louse up Champion's detonator-arrow. I mean... WHOA! Oliver Queen eat your heart out!
The Heck art on this single issue is nothing short of astonishing, displaying not only his unmatched capacities for drawing a vast range of normal human movement and for doing expressive facial features and body language, but also for doing weird architectural and mechanical device design, as well. While the issue does pretty much necessarily short change the rest of the Avengers, it's still one of my faves.
In point of fact, an artist who can actually draw nearly anything well, which is to say, recognizably and in an aesthetically pleasing and graphically exciting fashion, is relatively rare, and even more rarely popular. Dan Spiegle is acknowledged by many old school professionals as an absolute master of his craft, but to the modern comics fan, his artwork is 'too cartoony' to be taken seriously, and nowhere near slick enough. Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby are masters of nearly every genre of sequential graphic melodrama, but they invented their own individual and unique visual styles for the particular form of superhero comics, and even so, Ditko was only commercially successful in a relatively few places and with a relatively few characters. Will Eisner is acknowledged by anyone with a lick of sense as being able to draw damn near anything beautifully, as are (or were) other graphics masters like Curt Swan, Kurt Schaffenburger, Mike Sekowsky, Carmine Infantino, Frank Robbins, Al Williamson, Wally Wood, and Gene Colan, and yet, while all these are figures who knew professional success and acclaim, none of them achieved the broad commercial and popular appeal of a Kirby, or, these days, a far more creatively limited and even stunted artist like, say, Jim Lee or Rob Liefeld. And, in fact, to the extent that any of these names are known today, half the list would be openly derided and reviled by the average, somewhat knowledgeable Modern Age fanboy, who would dismiss Swan as 'boring', Schaffenburger as 'cutesie', Sekowski as 'ugly', Infantino as 'jerky', Robbins with a simple, incredulous, jeering horselaugh, while most likely scratching his head in puzzlement as to the work of Williamson, Wood, or Colan.
Of course, more and more, the Modern Age of Superhero Comics has come to exemplify style over substance, with the most popular and commercially successful artists not only deriding and denying that scripters and writers had any valid place in sequential graphic storytelling, but by equally denying the validity of the actual substance of comic book artwork, namely, the capacity to reproduce elements of real or fantasy life consistently and recognizably, to simulate motion and sound, to create atmosphere, to establish a coherent visual setting, to control and present time and space in an effective manner, to demonstrate individual characterization and emotion with visual elements, and most of all, to actually tell a coherent, involving, entertaining, and above all else, CLEAR, story through artwork by directing the reader's eye from one distilled, stop-motion scene to another without the reader realizing its happening. Neither Jim Valentino nor Rob Liefeld could tell a coherent story through graphic sequences if their lives depended on it (and would that they did). Jim Lee can, but rarely does, because it's far more commercial for him to throw a bunch of lightboxed figures swiped from the work of the most popular artists of the 1980s together onto a page, without bothering to try to create any sense of flow between the panels. (While I'm lambasting Image artists, I try never to fail to mention that Todd McFarlane is actually an astonishingly gifted artist who CAN tell a story, and Erik Larsen is one of the few popular modern artists who is an absolute master of the basic visual storytelling vocabulary that Jack Kirby invented for superhero comics. Unfortunately, both of them also seem to think they're writers as well, and they're spectacularly bad at that. Also, Larsen's finished rendering is, perhaps deliberately, amazingly ugly.)
In point of fact, however, both writing and the skill of visual storytelling not only have a valid place in comics, they are actually at the heart of comics, and one has only to compare the work of Steve Englehart, a man obviously firmly grounded in both the techniques of writing a script and producing an acceptable page of sequential comic artwork, with anything produced under the scripting byline of an Image writer/artist, to see the huge difference that storytelling skills make. A few specific examples should make this clear.
Englehart, even when saddled with less than stellar artists during the Silver Age, almost always got the best from them, and he understood the value of an artist whom, while the fans might not like his artwork as much as someone 'slicker', could still draw what the writer asked for. There is a notorious story of Englehart's praise of Sal Buscema, saying he preferred working with Sal to someone like George Tuska, because Sal would actually draw what Englehart asked him to draw in the script, while George drew whatever he took it into his head to draw... something that explains why, in some Tuska illustrated issues of Stainless Steve scripted AVENGERS, some of the characters' dialogue has to be continued in captions over inexplicably inserted panels showing trucks driving on a highway. Tuska had learned by rote that a professional artist always breaks up 'talking heads' pages with something visually interesting, without apparently grasping that a GOOD artist, with actual talent as well as technical skill, can find a way to make a talking heads page visually interesting without suddenly cutting away, for no good reason whatsoever, to a nearby Interstate. Yet still, Englehart forced good work even through the morass of Tuska's often clueless layouts, plastering the completely unhelpful artwork with text-laden captions to convey the necessary emotion, atmosphere, and even the actual action that Tuska often utterly failed to in any way illustrate or convey. While the Tuska illustrated issues of AVENGERS may well be the artistic low point for Englehart's run on the book (even Englehart's long time collaborator, the often mediocre Bob Brown, was a comparative master of clarity, characterization, atmosphere, and panel to panel storytelling compared to Tuska), Englehart's script work is as strong on those issues as it is anywhere else, which is strong indeed.
***STEVE E. SEZ:
Sorry--I love Bob Brown, too. He did a little 8-pager for TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED (don't ask me to dig it out) that I thought was one of the best comics I had ever seen at the time, and his CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN was great, even in the light of his following Kirby. Plus it got better over time; he was one of those guys who didn't lock into a style and stay there forever after--meaning, he was involved in what he was doing. ***
Your Humble Author hastens to amend his above reporting and state that I should have found a better way to sum up Bob Brown's artistic skills than 'often mediocre'. Brown was a master craftsman whose acquired skills and experience no doubt outshone his somewhat lesser natural talents, but he was a solid, competent, and always professional visual storyteller who consistently demonstrated an easy, fluid capacity with the basic visual vocabulary of sequential graphic melodrama. I myself enjoyed Brown's artwork hugely on titles like DAREDEVIL and SUPERBOY, and will note that often Brown's inker made a large difference in the finished quality of the published work. I don't think Brown was at his best on AVENGERS, because he was called on to draw far too many really weirdly dressed characters doing really odd things all the time (especially in the Zodiac stories), and I think Don Heck's inks over Bob Brown's pencils was a rather bizarre visual mismatch. (Equally oddly, Vince Colletta over Brown on DAREDEVIL looked good, and I normally despise Colletta's greasy shortcutting approach to inking.) Nonetheless, I rate Brown highly as a personal favorite artist and an accomplished visual master, albeit one who had a somewhat limited range and who is generally badly underestimated by fandom at large, along with other similar masters of basic storytelling and detail rendering, like Sal Buscema, Don Heck, Dan Spiegle, and Herb Trimpe.
***JEFF CLEM SEZ:
I'm in on Heck, and even Dillin and Novick, but honestly, Bob Brown has never done it for me.***
Well, boo on you, Jeffster. <grin>
Englehart's experience as an artist and an artistic assistant stood him in excellent stead in knowing what to ask of competent artists, and how to get the best work out of the truly good ones he worked with. It seems difficult to believe, but in point of fact my own experience shows me its lamentably true: there are people out there who simply do not understand that while, in fact, a comics artist can certainly attempt to draw anything, there are certain things that a competent writer would never ask them to draw and expect a remotely competent result. While the best comics artists can consistently find ways to surprise even the most insanely demanding writer or artist if given the freedom and flexibility to set up a page in a certain way... in fact, "Marvel style", in which a writer provides a plot without specific visual instructions to an artist, has allowed artists over the years like Kirby, Ditko, John Buscema, Barry Windsor-Smith, John Byrne, George Perez, Frank Miller, and a host of others to come up with a lot of startling, useful, and inventive visual storytelling techniques that, once they're shown to be effective, are quickly imitated by other artists and thus, quickly pass into the established visual vocabulary of superhero comics... any writer who works 'full script' has to almost from sheer necessity have a sense of what can and can't be accomplished skillfully and well on a comics page. As a specific example of this, I once saw a fairly standard six panel full script page intended to do a fairly straightforward introduction of a five person superhero team get transformed, by a well meaning but inexperienced co-scripter, into a 10 panel one page sequence which would have given any pro penciller it was handed to either nightmares for weeks or simply a bout of utter hysterics. In the original six panel page, five panels had each focused on separate individual members of the superhero team, as they battled a large, inhuman monster, asking for the artist to show each character in such a way as to visually define their powers and, of course, their actual appearance. One character had the ability to fly as well as superhuman levels of agility, another could create unusual effects with her singing voice, a third had superhuman levels of perception (a tricky thing for an artist to display, granted), a fourth had a specifically visual sort of energy power, and the fifth was a ten foot tall giant... all of which would lead into a large splash sixth panel, showing the team together for the first time confronting the monster, which would be mostly off panel or in the background. When that particular page of script left the hands of the original writer's collaborator, a guy with extensive experience reading superhero comics but who had never given more than thirty seconds thought to the demands of actually writing them prior to that moment, it had 'evolved'... for lack of a better word... into a 10 panel sequence of alternating long shots showing the entire team battling the gigantic monster together, interspersed with various close ups of the individual team member's heads and faces, and each panel was loaded down with 40 to 50 words of narration and dialogue, guaranteeing that even if someone of Steve Ditko's skill were to do the layout, pencils and inks for the page, no one would see the finished artwork underneath the captions and text balloons.
Now, this wasn’t going to happen with Englehart, because, through his experiences as a comics artist himself, would already know precisely what an artist could do in general for a writer, and assuming he paid attention and regarded the artwork of the professional artists in the business at the time with an analytical eye... something I'm willing to bet, based on the excellence of the finished product he and his collaborators nearly always produced, that he did... he would also be aware of the individual limitations, strengths and weaknesses of nearly any artist he would work with, and could thus tailor his creative approaches to those particular needs and capacities. This is also important; a writer who creates a character and a script specifically for, say, Steve Ditko, may be astonished and chagrined if that script, along with the task of basic character design, winds up in the hands of, say, Curt Swan... who, although he is certainly a talented artist, probably an equally talented one to Ditko, nonetheless has a very different visual approach than Ditko does. And that's a fairly mild example compared to one where, say, an artist might well be expecting a pencilling job of the quality of, say, a Wally Wood or Gene Colan or Frank Miller effort, and be absolutely appalled to see results come back from someone like Klaus Janson or Denys Cowan instead. Such things can, at worst, send writers reeling away from an agreed on assignment in horror, and even falling short of that extreme, can certainly see a writer simply shrug and decide there's no point in doing his best work on a certain assignment, since it's going to be buried under inept pencilling anyway.
Specific examples of how Englehart's early artistic experience stood him in good stead abound throughout his creative career in comics.
Many others have commented on the remarkable fusion of Englehart's writing talents with Marshall Rogers' visual storytelling brilliance on the indisputably outstanding DETECTIVE arc they collaborated on, (the team did similarly excellent work on four issues of the generally forgotten MR. MIRACLE revival in 1977 and 1978) and certainly, Marshall Rogers has never looked so good again with anyone other than Englehart, and rarely has Englehart been able to so tightly and tersely dole out dialogue, thought balloons, and captions with such utter confidence in his collaborator's ability to effortlessly carry his own storytelling duties.
At times, Englehart even had to take a firmer hand with artists who simply would not give him what he felt the story needed. At a mini-Con I attended in Syracuse, N.Y. in 1982 (I believe, it could have been any time up to 1984, though; I'm old and my memory of specific dates is fuzzy), I spent a couple of hours talking to one of my artistic idols, Dave Cockrum, mostly because everyone else at the Con was grouped around George Perez's table badgering him for naked sketches of Wonder Girl kissing Starfire. (I would have been, too, but it seemed kind of nekulturny.) Dave, like most of the idols of mine I've actually spent any face time with, was somewhat personally disappointing (although I'm well aware I'm no prize, either) and when I could manage to get him off the subject of how unfair it was that NEW TEEN TITANS was a bestseller while the fans were largely ignoring his FUTURIANS strip, when he himself had pioneered the whole visually exciting youthful superteam dynamic in LEGION and NEW X-MEN, I did ask him a few questions about his past projects, specifically the places I'd loved his work best on, namely, LEGION OF SUPERHEROES and GIANT SIZE AVENGERS #2. It was at that point that Dave mentioned something I found extraordinary: that Steve Englehart had been so displeased with the artwork Dave had turned in on GSA #2 that in at least one place, he had "taken an actual scissors to the original artwork" to get the panels in the order he wanted.
Of course, I have only Dave Cockrum's word for this, although, having said that, I should ruefully acknowledge that a direct quote from one of the creators directly involved in something I'm writing about is a rather distinctive and oddly legitimate source for THIS column. And given that even folks who tend not to like Cockrum's artwork generally agree that GSA #2 contains some of his all time best, it would seem that if Steve E. indeed felt moved to cut up and rearrange Cockrum's original art to get the final effect he wanted, he was certainly vindicated in doing so by history.
***STEVE E. SEZ:
Okay, now I have Dave C. and Steve E.'s word for it. Hey, I published something truthful in a Martian Vision article! My former publisher at CBEM is whirling in his grave. (Okay, he's probably not dead yet, but allow me a moment of personal wish fulfillment.)
***JEFF CLEM SEZ:
Steve doesn't talk much about the Cockrum-GSA #2 incident (witness his terse reply) and he says even less about his experience with David Singer and WALLY WOOD'S THUNDER AGENTS #1... because there's really nothing interesting to say, or... ***
Or? OR? Darn you, you know far more than me about this stuff, Jeff, finish your sentences!
In contrast to Engelehart, we have writers like Roy Thomas, who, in the words of the Late Great Jeff Webb, 'makes good artists draw bad', as can be seen if one contrasts, say, the early work of Todd McFarlane on INFINITY INC., where he generally looks amateurish, rushed, and muddled, with work from the same time period he did for Englehart in various back up features presented in COYOTE and SCORPIO ROSE, where he created artwork that was far clearer and more pleasant to look at. Of course, a supporter of INF-INC might cogently point out that that particular superhero team had around a dozen members at any given point, nearly all of whom were visually freakish in some particular or another, and Roy tended to create plots in which large numbers of them would be present at any given time in any given panel, often doing little more than exchanging banter regarding obscure continuity of Golden Age superheroes and superheroines who had been published by forgotten houses back in the 40s and 50s, and who were generally talking about stuff that had never actually happened, anyway. It would be difficult, said hypothetical Inf-Inc fans might well opine, for even Jack Kirby or Will Eisner to draw that well, especially when you toss in Solomon Grundy and all those whackoes from Evil, Inc., or whoever it was that Inf-Inc always used to fight, with the exploding baby and the poisonous skeleton guy and the dog-person and what have you. However, to such a person, I would merely reply that a writer who has even a vestigial grasp on what goes into good comics artwork would never design such a wild assed pack of visually deranged characters and then cram them all into issue after issue after issue, often doing nothing but standing around talking to each other for pages on end. Even the best artists (and Todd McFarlane is one of the best artists in comics) can only do so much; a competent writer will give his penciller something worth working with.
Englehart's ability to work with George Perez is another specific example of how his early artistic training stood him in good stead. Perez was right at the beginning of his career when he started drawing AVENGERS under Englehart, and while anyone, even the sturdy and always reliable Sal Buscema, or the probably by then deceased (but equally professional) Bob Brown, would have been a welcome relief to George Tuska's spastic and heavily impaired stylistic interpretations, Perez was more than just a breath of fresh air, he was a whole jet stream of amazing and innovative visual talent. Like Rogers and McFarlane would somewhat later, Perez seemed to feel free to stretch himself and tell stories in his own inimitable fashion under Englehart, and while I have no idea what, if anything, Steve E. has ever said about George, or vice versa, nonetheless, it seems to me that Englehart was able to concentrate on his strengths (dialogue and characterization) under Perez, while trusting Perez to handle the visual storytelling quite ably on his own, without heavy captions festooning everything to inform an otherwise puzzled reader of exactly what was going on in any particular panel. Contrast this a few years later to how muddled, crowded, and generally inept Perez looked under Jim Shooter's writing on the same title. I've made this point previously and drawn the wrath of George Perez in so doing, who shot me an email telling me in no uncertain terms that he'd enjoyed working with Shooter and if his artwork was discernibly worse in that run on AVENGERS than it had been under Englehart, it was doubtless his fault, but honestly, I think that's just George being nice, to his co-worker Shooter if not to the idiotic fanboy mouthing off about things he obviously has no clue regarding. Still, even in the face of that, I'm going to stick by my guns and say that looking back over both Shooter and Englehart's extensive bodies of work in the comics field, it seems fairly obvious to me that Englehart has far more consistently gotten good art jobs than Shooter has, often out of the same artists, and I seriously doubt this can be a coincidence... although I'll admit, it could merely be a perceptual glitch on my part.
***STEVE E. SEZ:
You're right about how I worked with George--I always encourage my artists to kick ass, and the happier they are the happier I am. But I have no knowledge of how Jim worked with him.***
I merely include the above comment for the egotistical reason that it's Steve E. saying I'm right about something. <grin> Having said that, I will also say that all the evidence I have says that I'm simply wrong about the difference in quality between Perez's two stints on AVENGERS, the one under Englehart, and the other under Shooter. I have Perez's own email (well, I don't have it any more, or I'd cut and paste it here) to tell me I'm crazy. Also:
***JEFF CLEM SEZ:
I'm sorry, I do not see the decline in quality of Perez's art from Englehart to Shooter. I do, however, think that Perez was better then than he is now. I absolutely love Avengers # 160 and 161 by Perez and Shooter.***
Jeff echoes a few other fans who disagree with me fervently about the drop I see in Perez's artistic quality under Shooter. I've admitted above it could all be subjective. Nonetheless, in my own defense, I will continue to hold forth that I see a very real decline in the overall quality, not only of Perez's finished rendering under Shooter (which could admittedly be blamed on the inker) but of his basic storytelling skills. Glancing at Perez's work under Shooter, as compared to his work under Englehart, or under his own direction in WONDER WOMAN, Wolfman's in TITANS, or Busiek's in his modern run on the rebooted AVENGERS, it still seems to me to be simply the worst work he's ever done, and the major difference I see is the number of panels crammed onto each page, and the number of characters Perez is forced to draw into each panel. Of course, under Englehart Perez had to draw a sizeable squad of Avengers battling an even larger group of Squadron Supremors, but Englehart gave him far more room to stretch out in. Busiek also loaded up the boat quite frequently in his run on AVENGERS with Perez, but I have some knowledge of Kurt Busiek's method of working with artists, and I know he's extremely intelligent and knowledgeable in how he chooses to interact with them... those who need extra guidance he works full script with, those who don't he happily goes 'Marvel style' with. I strongly suspect he collaborated fully with Perez, giving him only light plots and then joyfully scripting the amazingly drawn pages Perez gave back to him. (I don't know for sure, because Kurt thinks I'm a big jerk these days and his head would explode if I asked him to comment. Which would be a great personal gain for me but a loss for AVENGERS, so I'll just leave it alone, as I love the Avengers more than life itself... well, Kurt's life, anyway.)
Perez's email note to CBEM on my assertions in re: his work under Shooter mentioned that Jim had given him very detailed plots written out on yellow legal sized paper, and I'm simply thinking that given that Shooter is, himself, someone who thinks of himself as an artist, and is pretty obviously a 'do it my way' kinda guy anyway, (that's me being polite and not using the term 'control freak') those very detailed plots may well have dictated panel flow and page structure... not something a really perspicacious writer would burden a George Perez with. And, again, given the generally lousy artwork Shooter has gotten out of many of his regular artists, I'm going to continue to stick to my guns and say Perez looked worse under Shooter than under anyone else he worked with on AVENGERS, and it was probably due to Jim S.' notorious penchant for exercising way more control than a truly talented collaborator needed.
I also have to regretfully disagree with Jeff's other notation. Perez's modern artwork under Busiek on AVENGERS simply blows his earlier stuff away, not simply in the big, broad fight scenes and explosions that all us fanboys adore, but more specifically, in the more subtle areas of visual storytelling, like giving individual characters individual facial structures and body languages. In his early days on AVENGERS, Perez once did a sequence in which Hank Pym, Clint Barton, and Steve Rogers all sat around in a room at Avengers Mansion talking to each other with their masks off, and from the neck up, you couldn't tell them apart. Contrast that with his work under Busiek, in which Hawkeye clearly looks like a big chinned corn fed Midwestern boy, Steve Rogers has a far narrower, more fine boned and almost aristocratic face, Thor is so Norse looking it's almost painful, the Wasp has an impish, wistful, snub nosed, almost urchin's face much of the time, and Hank Pym actually looks studious and intent, with the thin, bookish features of a British Harvard don.
Nonetheless, I feel safe in saying that Englehart's background as a comics artist and art assistant has stood him in good stead during his decades of writing some of the finest superhero comics ever published.
This is a point where I have to stop and note my astonished double-take. In all my decades as a somewhat wired-in fanboy, I have never even remotely heard the slightest hint that Englehart had anything to do with the creation of the Ghost Rider. However, at the same time, it hardly seems like something you'd lie about, and in fact, I've yet to catch Steve E. in any sort of lie, so I have to assume that there's something valid behind this. I wish Steve had gone into more details here, as I'm sure there has to be a fascinating story behind this annotation.
***STEVE E. SEZ:
Fascinating? From a fan-boy perspective, maybe.***
Ouch! I think that one drew blood. <grin> Nah, not really. I'm a fanboy, I admit it.
***STEVE E. continues:
No, I meant that *I* was still basically a fan-boy at the time, so it
was fascinating to me because it was one of my earliest times of
contributing to Marvel.
Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog (I think; am I right? I haven't thought about this since 1972)***
I have no idea. GHOST RIDER wasn't one of my faves. I do dimly recall Mike Ploog being associated with the book early on.
***STEVE E. continues:
and Roy were in the Bullpen's one office (it had been Stan's, and probably still was, but it might have been Roy's by then). They were trying to make the new character work, but there were problems. I was either called in for a fresh perspective or wandered in on my own, and joined the discussion. We ran things up, down, and backwards, and I was able to contribute--which is why, since I was still new, I see it more as a fan-boy's dream date than anything else, and why it's part of the Beginnings section, on a par with that early art and co-scripting.
Let me add that the events happened like this, but I can't swear that it was Gary and Mike and Roy in the room. Mike's the dimmest in my mind, and it could have been Stan instead of Roy, though I don't think so.***
I have a lot of similar memories of brainstorming with Kurt Busiek early in his career, and of course, I creatively kibitzed extensively with Kurt, Scott McCloud, and the Late Great Jeff Webb back when we were all in college and no one had broken in to comics yet, so I know how muddled up such memories can be, and how difficult it can be to get details straight of stuff that happened so long ago. I say all this to state that Steve E.'s lack of reliable recall on who was in the meeting at the time adds more verisimilitude to his anecdote, not less. And yeah, as a fanboy I find the account fascinating! Sue me. <grin>
All this vastly weird and entirely obscure Englehart material was, to say the least, news to me. Beyond that, I have little comment, other than to say that I'd like to read all this stuff, just to see how recognizable (if at all) Englehart's dialogue and narrative style was in such material, especially as "Anne Spencer".
***STEVE E. SEZ:
My sister's name is Anne, and she married a guy from Spencer IN.***
To which I can only say, okay, then. Good characterization detail there, Stainless One. ;)
I've managed to see a few photostats of these recently (thanks, Jeff). These are sort of Steve E. version of THIS MODERN WORLD by Tom Tomorrow, twenty years beforehand. Crisp dialogue, deft wordplay, and usually a cogent political point made, all in generally six or seven panels or less. Not precisely what I look for from Englehart, but certainly not at all to his discredit. His artwork is much more workable in these, as well, and I myself think I see a distinct Sal Buscema influence. (There are many in my hypothetical audience - I wouldn't make that same claim of 'many' for an actual audience of these things, mind - who will now feel I've insulted Steve's art. Those hypothetical Sal-bashers can go soak their heads. I can think of no one better suited to study or emulation of than Sal Buscema for improving basic comics drawing techniques.)
All this stuff is familiar to me, although the AMAZING ADVENTURES "Beast" run is one whose generally low circulation numbers have made very hard to find in back issues, so I don't own any, and have only ever read the series once (on the floor of Kurt Busiek's dorm room in 1980, very carefully taking them out of their protective snugs and putting them back again, one at a time, before moving on to the next issue, under the understandably zealous eye of 'Sieur Busiek himself). I remember the artist's name was something... Tom Sutton?... something like that, and I disliked his art intensely, and I also remember thinking that the whole weird effect which occurred when Unus and the Blob slammed themselves together was... er... kind of a stretch... but still, overall, I enjoyed the series, and wish I could pick up some copies now. Pretty clearly, Marvel is never going to reprint it.
***JEFF CLEM SEZ:
Tom Sutton may not be your cup of tea, artistically, but I theorize that he was giving them
"dead-o-night/Lovecraftian" stuff and they felt the urge to cover that up with heavy inkers like Giacoia, Ploog and Frank McLaughlin. I do like the issue Ploog inked, which looks like Ploog drew it.***
I don't remember the issues well enough to actually detail inkers, since I've only ever read them once, under the circumstances detailed above. And Tom Sutton is definitely not my cup of tea, artistically. However, at least I like Bob Brown. Nyaaah. <grin>
Okay. Jeff C. astounded me by including copies of these in his CARE package to me, and I've reread them recently, so I can now comment more cogently. First, Tom Sutton's art is much better to my present day perceptions than it was to the 18 year old snot who first read these on Kurt Busiek's dorm room floor back in 1980. It's still not entirely to my liking in many places, but he did a pretty excellent job capturing the mood and atmosphere necessary to a bizarre little strip like this.
The strip was bizarre. A close examination of the letters page indicates that Gerry Conway had written the premiere issue of the arc, in which scientist Hank McCoy drank a serum of his own devising to enhance his own mutations, and became the hunched over, grey furred, somewhat monstrous Beast that he basically remained for the next several years of comics continuity (although he later turned black, for a few issues, and then, throughout his run in AVENGERS, blue). I've never read that issue (Kurt did not bring that issue with him to college, as at the time he had a fine disdain for Conway's work, which I certainly shared then and still have now, although Kurt may have reconsidered, given his own professional success... pros can rarely afford to hold the same opinions as mere obnoxious fanboys, at least, publicly), so I don't know for sure, but from comments in later letters pages, it sounds like Conway simply wanted to give Marvel yet another monster mag, and pretty much had McCoy transform himself for no good reason at all. (Englehart's dialogue in AA #12 seems to subtly underscore this point, as he has the Beast wail that he has no idea why he drank that serum in the first place, and repeat that bemoaning at least twice.) Englehart also seems to have been stuck with an editorial mandate to make the Beast monstrous, as he seems to have had to contrive plots in which the Beast is more or less forced to behave that way (Mastermind using illusions to bring out a hallucinatory 'berserker rage' in the first Englehart issue, for example). Yet if Englehart was given such a directive, he rose above it well, and managed to give us a lot of interesting characterization on poor Hank in the midst of what quite clearly, in the hands of a lesser writer like Conway, would have been nothing but a cheap, shallow knock off of HULK or WEREWOLF BY NIGHT.
[Since writing the above, Jeff C. has sent me more interview material of Englehart's, and I'm aware that apparently, Roy Thomas initiated the idea of giving The Beast his own title, based on seeing a novel of that name and deciding it was a good name for a series. How much Roy contributed to the idea to turn Hank McCoy into a lame combination of Hulk and Werewolf By Night I don't know, though.]
It's worth noting that this sort of market driven, commercially minded, fad conscious distortion of an established character into something that might make a few more short term shekels for that character's corporate masters is something I hate the most in modern comics, and had Conway continued to maladroitly direct the character, the 'beastilization' of Hank McCoy would probably be seen as one of the blackest marks he and Roy Thomas' resumes. Since Englehart took over AMAZING ADVENTURES, and later set the tone for the Beast in his run on AVENGERS, this forced, utterly contrived and truly awfully conceived metamorphosis became a valid, and even much treasured development in what later became a fan favorite character. But I sincerely doubt that ever would have happened, had Conway kept handling the series.
Englehart did some fun things in this brief arc, although as with most writers who have handled the character, he seemed to have a rather shaky grasp on Mastermind's powers, treating them as completely convincing mental illusions in some instances (the Beast, even though he knows its an illusion, nonetheless is forced to leap down from a high wire when it seems to burst into flames) and as little more than visual tricks in others (the Beast dives straight through an illusory Mastermind in one early panel, and in another, Mastermind explains that he needs the Beast to steal a diamond, even though he's perfectly capable of projecting a flawless illusion of said jewel, because prospective buyers will want to examine the jewel, although in they will, in the end, keep only an illusion, while Mastermind and his crew keep the original gem to be sold over and over again... something that would only matter if Mastermind were, in fact, not capable of projecting a completely convincing mental illusion). Since in the first issue, Mastermind does indeed project a completely convincing mental illusion to the Beast that he has flown into a rage and killed Iron Man... well... anyway, it's inconsistent. Of course, as I mentioned, most writers who handle Mastermind seem similarly clueless as to how his powers really work (or simply change how they work from one part of the story to the next, to suit specific plot requirements), but all of that is simply a good reason to avoid using the character, to my mind... or if one is going to use him, to get a good idea in one's own head of just what he can and can't do before setting out to write him.
Englehart also seemed fuzzy on the Juggernaut, apparently laboring under the misperception that if Juggy's helmet was ripped off, he would lose his mystic powers. This is, of course, untrue; the helmet merely conveys protection from mental attacks to Marko, which is why, in his first appearance in X-MEN, it being ripped off led to his defeat at the hands (well, lobes) of Professor X. For the Beast to rip off Juggie's helmet, with no handy telepathic ally nearby, is pretty much useless. Still, the story was set in Rutland, Vermont on Halloween, and that's always kinda fun. Even more enjoyable for me was recognizing the various supporting characters in the story, which when I first read it as a kid of around 11, I didn't... Stainless Steve writes himself into the comic, along with Len Wein and his wife Glynis (who, as drawn by Bob Brown, looks fetching in a 70s Supergirl outfit) and a milk drinking Gerry Conway, and even manages to get in a dig at his new employers by having Glynis Wein wonder, when Steve's car breaks down, "Doesn't Marvel pay Steve ANYthing?"
[Oddly, this issue, which Steve notes is co-plotted with a JLA issue, is sort of a precursor; later on, in Steve's first JLA script, he also writes himself in, as Esteben Corazon, dictator of a small, fictional South American country.]
JLA #103 is sort of the DC Universe flip side of this story, although there is actually no connection between the two. In it, DC-Universe versions of Len & Glyn Wein, Gerry Conway, and Steve Englehart do all travel to Rutland VT, and Gly Wein is wearing a Supergirl costume (over in the Marvel Universe, it's referred to as a 'Powergirl' costume, strangely presaging a whole different character not yet conceived), and Glyn does wander off and go through some weird stuff... but it's different weird stuff than she goes through in the MU.
The only element in common between the JLA story and the Beast story (as well as the truly wretchedly abysmally awful THOR story by Gerry Conway they were all co plotted with) is that poor Steve Englehart's car keeps getting abused by the villains, and in the end, gets stolen.
As long as I’m talking about this, I’ll mention that Jeff C. also sent me a copy of THOR #207, which I’d read once long ago and quickly forgotten. Rereading it now, I see the fast lapse in memory was most likely a defense mechanism; it’s a truly ghastly, appallingly badly written story in which so much mindbogglingly stupid shit happens it would take an entire article to list it all. Suffice to say, the sequence where Loki turns a couple of dogs into magically powered wolves and sics them on Thor, and Thor doesn’t want to hurt them because they’re ‘innocents’, made me long for death… Conway’s, at least, hopefully retroactive to just before he turned this awful thing in. Going beyond just bad writing, there’s another sequence in this story where Thor manages to summon a distant Mjolnir to his hand by… well, here, let me quote it, you’d just never believe it otherwise:
"Then, turning his thoughts to other matters, Thor cries a single word – the true name of the mallet called Mjolnir -- ! Only by their true name may the things of the Earth be summoned – and the true names are known only to a few – a very blessed few."
Now, excuse me while my head simply explodes under this torrential downpour of utterly unprecedented bullshit, but I swear to God, if Thor had ever before in his publishing history at Marvel (or at any point in actual Norse mythology) managed to summon Mjolnir to him from a distance before he turned back into Don Blake by invoking Mjolnir’s ‘true name’ (wouldn’t that be, you know, Mjolnir?), I have never heard the merest breath of a whisper of it, and I’m pretty frickin’ sure he never did it again, either. This is writing so colossally, brain numbingly godawful that it truly belongs in a Jerry Siegel MIGHTY CRUSADERS story, right alongside the bit where the Shield teleports the entire team out of the heart of an inescapable nuclear death trap using a super power he had never mentioned having before, and could only use once, and therefore would never bring up again.
And I’m not even going to mention the shrieking stupidity embodied in the fact that Loki’s dog/wolves are named Satan and Diablo. I mean, what the FUGG. When did Loki become a Roman Catholic?
And who wrote this lovely, lovely gem of pulse pounding superhero comics storytelling? Why, none other than Very Merry Gerry Conway… the man who turned Hank McCoy, for no good reason, into a grey furry monster, and a guy we’ll be getting back to in rather more detail a bit further on, trust me.
I'm not entirely certain, but Englehart may have been the writer who pioneered the technique of tying up loose ends from one prematurely cancelled series in another ongoing assignment. I know it was a technique Englehart used a few more times, as when he brought the Roxxon storyline from CAPTAIN AMERICA over into AVENGERS, and at the same time, used that same story arc in AVENGERS to tie up a few more Beast loose ends from AMAZING ADVENTURES!
You can see why the man is my role model; few others would note with such pride putting Patsy Walker in lingerie in a mainstream Marvel comic book. I can only note ruefully that I wish Gene Colan or Wally Wood had drawn it.
***STEVE E. SEZ:
Sales were not good and, if I may say, I've always been a little less constricted about sex than most people in comics. Not that I expected great cheesecake, because it was Tom Sutton, who did not draw the most realistic human forms around, but I wanted the sexiest opening we could get, and we got it.***
'Less constricted about sex' indeed, Stainless... who else would cultivate a taste for artificial phallus in the cold, cold heart and previously untouched orifi of the Scarlet Witch? Or give us history's first real sexually driven soap opera with the Mantis-Swordsman-Vision-Witch tangle? Or, rather later on, show us comics' first case of marital infidelity, when Marvel's hottest babe, Crystal, decided to get it on with an insurance salesman who bore an alarming resemblance to Richard Howell, the guy drawing the series the affair took place in? (Note to Rich: that's not a criticism, big guy, that's a 'hubba hubba'. Working in comics has weird perks; having your visual alter ego ball The Most Delectable Super Babe of the Marvel Universe has to be a major one. You go, dude.) And all that's just early on, and doesn't even touch on the cruelty of Star Sapphire with poor paralyzed Hector Hammond...
Back to the Patsy Walker in a negligee thing: my recollections are that no, no, it certainly wasn't Gene Colan drawing the Black Widow getting out of a shower and toweling herself down in loving detail (a very fondly recalled adolescent memory of an otherwise blah BLACK WIDOW solo story by, I think, Gary Friedrich, but it might have been Roy Thomas). However, it was pretty hot, given the limitations of the artist.
And, having just reread the sequence, I can say that it looked better than I remembered. It's not bad stuff at all, given, you know, that it was Tom Sutton.
Englehart doesn't note it, so perhaps it's not true, but I've always regarded "The Avengers-Defenders War" as being the seminal superhero crossover event. The JLA and JSA had, by this time, established a yearly team up adventure as a tradition, but the JSA did not have their own title, and their associative adventures took place within a single yearly issue of JLA in which the JSA effectively acted as guest stars (later in the tradition, DC started throwing in a third super team each year, as well, starting with the rather obscure Seven Soldiers of Victory and later using the Legion of Superheroes, the All Star Squadron, and in what may stand as the all time worst, and last, JLA/JSA team up, a one shot family superhero team called the Champions -- !!! -- whose basic characterizations, along with the essential plot for the story, were directly swiped from Madeline L'Engle's various children's fantasy series, especially A WRINKLE IN TIME). What Englehart did in weaving a continued storyline between two ongoing team titles was, I think, unprecedented, and obviously set the stage for the proliferation of crossover stories that erupted across both major comics companies in the 1980s and spread to the competing companies throughout the 1990s.
In addition to being astonishingly prescient (if not actually trend-setting in its own right, which I suspect it actually was), "The Avengers/Defenders War" was something nearly every following crossover story distinctly was not... well plotted and beautifully executed. Englehart interwove obscure pieces of Marvel's Silver Age continuity with minor bits of then current characterization into a richly detailed narrative arc which accomplished the singular feat of individually showcasing 15 different wildly iconoclastic superheroes in a steadily evolving and always interesting plot that not only grabbed and held the attention, but made sense throughout, and which built up to a thoroughly satisfying climax and resolution. "The Avengers-Defenders War" has, to my knowledge, never been reprinted, probably due to the fact that the artists involved (Bob Brown and Sal Buscema) have never been fan favorites, and Englehart's work is currently out of fashion, but it's a pity, as this is not only a piece of superhero comics history, but also a damned good story in its own right. Maybe if we can get Carlos Pacheco or George Perez to re-do the artwork...
***STEVE E. SEZ:
It is being reprinted very shortly, along with part of the Celestial Quest and some chunk of Captain America. I was kept totally out of the loop on the reprints, of course. What could I have possibly added to the package?***
Ah, irony. What indeed? Still, while Englehart's treatment by modern comics publishers has been fairly disgraceful, it's good to know that this stuff is going to be reissued.
As Steve E. notes, he did indeed create the character of the Valkyrie, who went on to become a staple for the Defenders' often (post Gerber, anyway) tediously long first run, and who has since been revived in a new form by Busiek and Larsen for the Defenders' current series (reportedly not long for this world, since Joe Quesada is said to really dislike the series' 'retro' feel. Now, if Busiek and Larsen had pitched him an ULTIMATE DEFENDERS, and gotten Mark Millar to write it...) Steve also did quite an excellent Norrin Radd, although Gerber hastily tossed the Surfer into exile in order to focus on the more human level DEFENDERS throughout his own long, singular, and brilliantly iconoclastic run on the book.
***JEFF CLEM SEZ:
Steve did not create Valkyrie - that was Roy Thomas in Avengers #83, which took place in Rutland, VT.***
***STEVE E. SEZ
Sorry. Wrong. Roy created her. I just used her.***
While I could wax rhapsodic for hours on the fascinating images conjured up by the phrase "I just used her" in relation to the Valkyrie (hey, I'm overly libidinous, deal with it), I won't, for two reasons: (a) it would be unprofessional and off the subject of this article, and (b) if Valkyrie were real and I tried to use her, she'd beat me up. So let me just say, for one of the few times in this article:
I absolutely disagree with Jeff and Steve E. in this particular regard.
Well, you're thinking, YOU'RE a moron, I mean, for God's sake, the guy you say created the character just said he didn't create the character. Is idiocy congenital in your family or simply one of your acquired characteristics?
Okay, I see your point, you hypothetical heckler, but, nonetheless, I DO disagree with both Jeff and Steve. Yes, Roy Thomas created an entity that called herself 'the Valkyrie' briefly in the laughably pretentious AVENGERS #83, who briefly led a mind controlled pack of female superhumans into battle against the forlorn male Avengers under the truly obnoxious, desperately striving for hipness name of 'the Lady Liberators'. (I mean, GROAN!) And I won't deny that John Buscema, in fact, created the visual appearance, in that issue, of the Valkyrie. Nonetheless, what Roy created in that issue was a magical disguise for the Enchantress (whose mind control spells, by the way, don't work well on women, something Roy himself established in other issues and ignored in this one). It was Steve Englehart, in a later issue of THE DEFENDERS, who had the Enchantress conjure up an actual individual character called 'the Valkyrie', infusing the deranged body of Barbara Norris with the spirit of an actual (if memory impaired) Valkyrie from Valhalla. (That last little fillip is, as far as I know, a much later embellishment to the character by J.M. deMatteis; Englehart, and later Gerber, never paid much attention to the supernatural origins of 'the Valkyrie'.) It was Englehart who created the actual character and Englehart who established her actual behavior, speech pattern, and personality. It was Englehart who gave her the Black Knight's sword, and later on, Englehart who took it away again (I think... it might have been Gerber).
The sword bit is an important point; 'the Valkyrie' in AVENGERS #83, perhaps cognizant of her role as the leader of a 'liberated' superwomen's team, employed a halberd (for you non-D&D guys out there, a big goddam polearm), which is to say, the biggest frickin' phallus-surrogate weapon she could get her hands on. It was Englehart who established the Valkyrie as the only other sword wielding woman in comics besides Red Sonja.
So, to my mind, Englehart created the Valkyrie. A walking talking visual illusion that looked like the Valkyrie appeared before her, using that false name, under Roy Thomas, but Englehart created the actual character who endured for twenty years in her original form, and who has since been reborn in another version in the current run of DEFENDERS.
And, yes, I actually did know all that before Jeff and Steve pointed it out, I just didn't go into detail in my original draft of this article.
***JEFF CLEM SEZ:
Englehart is incorrect; he did not write the first non-Stan Silver Surfer...that was Roy Thomas in Sub-Mariner #34 and 35, which was, oddly enough, the "template" for Defenders. Marv Wolfman also thinks he was the first one to write the Surfer (Tomb of Dracula #50)after Stan's late 60s/early 70s series and he, too, is wrong. I had to inform them both of this when they were guests here at a con in October.***
I sez: I'm not gonna argue, since I have no clue, and Jeff sure sounds authoritative, don't he? <grin> However, I will point out that Englehart says 'the first non-Stan SERIES', and Jeff sites a two issue story, so I suspect Steve E. could make a good argument for Jeff being kinda silly on this point. But I don't get paid to referee.
In addition to Stainless Steve's extensive annotations, I would add to the list that he created the Serpent Squad, in both its original, three person incarnation (in the same issue that introduced Dave Cox, one of my personal single issue story favorites), and its later renovation under Madame Hydra, another Steve E. creation, who in that story murdered the original Viper (created by Steve Gerber) and took his nom de guerre as her own. The Madame Hydra/Viper character later went on to become something of an obsessive recurring favorite villain of Chris Claremont's, but we can't blame Steve E. for that.
More importantly, it was during the first appearance of the Nomad that Steve Englehart basically invented something that has since become a cottage industry for Alan Moore, and his legion of lesser imitators: the deconstruction of the superheroic mythos. Yes, all that sly, jeering "Damn you, Liz, you’re laughing at my life!" stuff that Moore later made an endless chomping supper out of, and continues to do so even now (brilliantly) in TOP 10 and other titles, got its start in one beautifully conceived, brilliantly scripted sequence where Steve Rogers, upon designing the costume he will wear as The Nomad, decides on impulse to give himself a cape, simply because he’s always liked them… and then later, he rips the damned thing off and drops it on the floor, never to be used again, after he trips over it while pursuing the Serpent Squad. "He tripped over his cape!" exults a fleeing Eel, hilariously. "I always knew I’d see someone do that someday!" A great, great moment, echoed a few years later when Professor Hugo Strange, managing to get his masked nemesis the Batman into a helpless position, also transcended standard genre limitations and quite intelligently lifted Batman’s mask, learning, for what must have been the first time in comics history, the secret identity of a defenseless hero.
Yep. All that great Marvelman and Top 10 satire stuff, as well as all its endless, perpetually mediocre imitations by Moore’s unblushing legion of slavish imitators, all the deconstruction of the standard superheroic mythology that fueled so much of the entire Modern Age… it all started here, with a guy in a blue and gold Sal Buscema costume falling flat on his face because he stepped on his great big flapping goddam stupid and useless blue cape. Heh. You gotta love it.
***STEVE E. SEZ:
I didn't create Madame Hydra, either. I think Gary Friedrich did, in the CAP just before I started.***
***JEFF CLEM SEZ:
The original Madame Hydra was created by Jim Steranko.
I think Steve is incorrect about Madame Hydra being created by Gary Friedrich in Captain America previous to Steve's own run. Conway was the writer on that title right before Englehart, I think, and Friedrich had done it for awhile before that, and I certainly do not remember any Madame Hydra, but I could be wrong. I'm writing this at work and I really do not relish digging through that extremely bad period of Cap's title, so please don't make me. I still think that the original Madame Hydra was created by Steranko in Cap #110,111 and 113. Later characters may have adopted the guise of Madame Hydra, but the original was from Steranko-ville, hepcat.***
I'm not gonna argue at all with any of this. When I said Steve E. had created Madame Hydra, I was going on my memories of Madame Hydra appearing in Cap's weird, green tinted memory flashbacks that occurred early in AVENGERS, when it turned out the Space Phantom had been screwing with his head. I don't remember that issue number, but I'm pretty sure it was written by Englehart, and I also dimly recall reading somewhere, in some interview with someone, that the issue had actually been pastiched together using previously unpublished artwork from another story to account for how Cap got his secret identity back after revealing it to the world years before in his own title. However, this is yet another example of how I write these things by the seat of my pants from my own muddled recollections, since my comics collection is in storage somewhere outside Syracuse, NY, and probably will be forever due to financial restraints. (And they may no longer be there at all; the buddy who offered to store them for me, at the last minute, as I was beating my way out of Syracuse barely ahead of a pack of creditors, has since dropped off the face of the Earth as far as I can discover, and God knows what's happened to those comics.)
That issue was the earliest memory I had of Madame Hydra, but if Jeff sez Steranko came up with her, I'll lay back and let it roll all over me. She certainly has the Steranko look.
I'd also point out that Steve's work here really begins to showcase not only his scripting ability, but his capacity for writing comedy, as well. The various 'alternate Captain Americas' who show up briefly during each issue when Cap is sojourning as Nomad all go through short lived but hilariously funny stints as self appointed 'replacement Caps', each of them discovering that it's easy to wear a costume, but impossible to actually fill the boots of the one and only Captain America. Of course, for all the hilarity of watching a retired baseball superstar break his arm trying to swing down from a rooftop on a bunch of fur store robbers, or a glory-seeking biker getting beaten senseless by six members of a rival bike gang ("Six of 'em - and I ain't even brung my crowbar!!"), Englehart was, as always, pointing us towards a very somber resolution of this theme, as in the end, the one 'substitute Cap' who might have actually eventually proved worthy to take the place of the original gets ambushed and killed by the Red Skull on his first real mission... and it's that, more than anything else, that brings it home to Steve Rogers that he can't simply walk away from a job he's made too dangerous for anyone else to do, and which America clearly needs to have done.
This story arc may well be the only time in Marvel's entire Silver Age in which a character actually, substantially changed and grew, and it showcases Englehart's subtlety, as well as his absolute, unchallenged monarchy in the realm of superhero comics characterization. In a fictional universe built on the much vaunted 'illusion of change', Steve E. was the only writer (at least, that I'm aware of) who managed to work profound changes... in actual fact, a significant 'rising and advancing of the spirit'... on a major superhero character, and yet do it in such a subtle way that, to all surface appearances, the character had actually only gone through a temporary departure from his conventional, established continuity and eventually returned to 'normalcy'. The extraordinary irony of this nearly existential storyline is, to my mind, unparalleled elsewhere in the Silver Age at any company or on any title. Englehart had a brilliance for making funnybook characters three dimensional that set the stage for later writers who would specialize in that sort of solid, evocative, character driven writing (a list of which is far too long to go into, but the best writers of the Modern Age are all on it, along with many of the more mediocre ones), yet in this particular arc on CAPTAIN AMERICA, he not only transcended genre limitations (something he did often enough to make it seem casual if not easy) but he also transcended his own astonishingly high standards as a writer. All Englehart's characters live and breathe almost palpably on the page, and that's why so many still read his stuff a quarter of a century later, but during the 'Nomad' sequence, Steve Rogers not only lived and breathed, he actually grew and matured as a person, too. It was unprecedented, and is even today nearly unequaled and entirely unsurpassed.
Englehart's work on DOC SAVAGE, I'll note in passing, is one of his obscure, more throwaway credits, and yet, to those of us who have managed to actually find and read these issues, absolutely typical of his almost universally laudable Silver Age work. Hampered by the restrictions of adaptive fiction (this particular DOC SAVAGE series was one in which actual Savage stories, as published in the pulp mags back in the 30s and 40s, were adapted to comics form, leaving Englehart very little to do but write dialogue), Englehart's flair for speech pattern and characterization still comes clearly through, and in point of fact, these few issues stand out to my mind as being the best of all the comic book versions of DOC SAVAGE I've read... and there have been a lot of them, over the years.
To my mind, there is no greater or more dramatic presentation of the differences in talent and writing ability of Englehart and Thomas than reading these issues of AVENGERS and GIANT SIZE AVENGERS and juxtaposing them against the Englehart scripted stuff all around them. Englehart plotted the issues and they are heavily continuity driven by the plots going on at the time, and yet, where Englehart dialogue would simmer, shimmer, and zing, what Thomas gives us is leaden, clunky, and at times outright awful... awful enough, indeed, to make fans of good dialogue put their heads in their hands and groan. One need only remember that it was Roy Thomas who had Henry Pym nickname his favorite three ants 'Crosby', 'Stills', and 'Nash' in what even a sixth grader would immediately see as a pathetic, straining attempt at relevance to realize just how big a poseur Roy always was... and to wish wistfully for a universe in which Englehart had scripted as well as plotted these two issues. (Not to mention one where he had stayed on AVENGERS, DR. STRANGE, and CAPTAIN MARVEL for fifty or a hundred issues longer...)
***JEFF CLEM SEZ:
Yes, the scripting on Avengers really took a dive when Roy pitched in to help Steve with deadlines around GSA #3.***
I only reprint this comment here because I found it so reassuring to find a fellow Silver Age comics fan who was willing to agree with my assessment of those issues in this regard. Most Silver Age comics fans seem to observe some unstated taboo about criticizing Roy "The Boy" Thomas; it's as if, because the man had the astonishing good luck to be present at a crucial creative crossroads in the development of the Marvel Universe, and thus, got the sceptre of Stan Lee's heir thrust into his hands (most likely because he was closest to the door when Stan was carried out on a stretcher one night after collapsing from overwork-related exhaustion), we all have to agree that he could actually WRITE, too. I've never liked Thomas' scripting more than a little bit, at its best, and often times, I simply can't read his stuff for more than a page without wanting an Advil. His so called 'classic' material, like the Kree-Skrull War, is decently plotted and just packed to the gills with the most godawful turgid silly melodramatic dialogue ever scripted in the Silver Age, and I knowingly include Arnold Drake's X-MEN in that assessment. (And even the Kree-Skrull War ends with what has to be the most momentously stupid plot device in the history of superhero comics; even more so than Jim Starlin having Matter Eater Lad eat the otherwise indestructible Miracle Machine.)
Anyway, thanks, Jeff, for finally giving me reason to think that at least in this one particular area, I'm not entirely deranged.
A continuing affirmation of how continuity conscious Englehart always was, and yet, how he always firmly understood that continuity is there to serve characterization, and characterization is the primary tool in producing good melodramatic fiction.
A moment, if you will:
This particular piece of text is something I’m writing very nearly at the close of the final draft of this article. The article has gone back and forth between Jeff Clem, Steve Englehart, and I several times at this point, and I believe I have all the commentary they want to add, and I’ve added everything I think they’re likely to respond to. This is not so much anything further, per se, on the actual Silver Age work of Steve Englehart, as it is simply a note, at this point, on the following section of text:
This part was hard to write. And it’s the most troublesome part of the entire article, and many would doubtless say it should be left out. Steve E. himself has noted to me in private email that he has long since patched things up with everyone else involved in this imbroglio and moved on, and bears no one any further ill will. He also noted, however, that if I really felt strongly about this and wanted to state my analysis of and opinions on it, then of course, I was welcome to. So I’m going to, and while I go into some detail a bit further down as to why I’m going to, there’s one fairly simple and overwhelming reason why I'm going to do this that I didn’t note there, so I’ll note it here:
This is important.
When AVENGERS #150 rolled around and was 2/3s reprint, with the third of it that was new being perhaps some of the most brilliant characterization and continuity driven superhero scripting I’d ever seen… it was important, because the loss of the rest of that story, which clearly would have been amazing and awesome, was a punch in the stomach to me, as a 14 year old comics fan. I took a deep loss when Englehart did not turn in a complete script for that book. The loss was further exacerbated when lesser scripters, under Conway’s editorship, turned in a hopelessly contrived patchwork script for AVENGERS #151. The loss was probably felt worst of all over on DR. STRANGE, where Englehart vanished in the middle of what may well be the most subtly brilliant storyline ever done in DR. STRANGE… perhaps in Silver Age superhero comics… and was replaced by the distinctly lesser voice of Marv Wolfman. It was also felt with Steve Gerber suddenly vanishing from DEFENDERS at exactly this moment, Jim Starlin vanishing from WARLOCK, and Steve Englehart, again, dropping out of CAPTAIN MARVEL, once more in the middle of a storyline.
This is IMPORTANT.
Those things HURT.
They didn’t just hurt a 14 year old who loved comic books and had no clue what had gone wrong, but knew it had to be something simply awful. (Although, honestly, if some big name pro got up in front of the fan press right now and wept righteously about the horribly emotional scarring some similar act had done to some poor fourteen year old, I’ll bet the fan press would think it was an outrage.) It hurt the entire Marvel Universe, and all its fans, because, well, despite the fact that I, for reasons of convenience and thematic appropriateness peg the end of Marvel’s Silver Age at the publication of GIANT SIZE X-MEN #1 a bit earlier than this, this was really where the Silver Age ended for the world’s first Three Dimensional Superhero Continuum. And that’s no small thing, for a comics fan. Oh, I grant you, it’s nothing to the vast majority of the world, and means about the same to perhaps the vast majority of comics fans these days, but honestly, the feelings and opinions and viewpoints of Modern Age comics fans mean every bit as much to me as those of Silver Age fans mean to them. To me, and to every kid and young adult buying Marvel Comics in 1976, this was HUGE. And to me, at least, it remains huge.
Ultimately, this massively bollixed clusterfuck ended up helping DC enormously, and don’t get me wrong, I love Englehart’s DETECTIVES and MR. MIRACLEs and some other stuff he did over there with an insane passion, as we’ll eventually see. But I’d trade it all back again in a heartbeat for another couple of years of Englehart on AVENGERS and DR. STRANGE, and Gerber on DEFENDERS, and Starlin on WARLOCK, and who knows what all else that we missed out on, due to the little debacle I’m going to be talking about in the paragraphs to come.
This is important. This HURT.
So I’m going to deal with it, at some length.
If you prefer not to read any of that, there’s a scroll bar to your right, or a Back button on your browser, for that matter.
We return you now to your regularly scheduled ravings, already in progress:
This is one of those pivotal points in superhero comics history where, if I could, I would love to put Steve Englehart, Steve Gerber, and Gerry Conway in separate interrogation rooms and keep them there until I got every detail of their particular versions of exactly what went on behind the scenes at Marvel Comics at this particular nexus point in space/time. Englehart left AVENGERS, DR. STRANGE, and CAPTAIN MARVEL in mid-story, and Gerber left DEFENDERS and HOWARD THE DUCK almost simultaneously, and recurrent scuttlebutt has always fixed the blame for both events firmly on Gerry Conway taking over the editing of both AVENGERS and DEFENDERS at that point (certainly, he took over both books as scripter, and the qualitative downturns in writing on both titles was as abrupt as it was depressing). It's worth noting that a very coherent argument can be made that this moment is the actual end of Marvel's Silver Age, since in point of fact, nearly all the creative air seemed to go right out of the universe with the departure of the two Steves.
Under Conway, DEFENDERS and AVENGERS quickly became clueless mishmashes, while under Marv Wolfman, the brilliant "Occult History of America" storyline Englehart had been doing in DR. STRANGE immediately sank to the depths of utter banality. Last and almost certainly least, a rookie Chris Claremont took Englehart's intriguing storyline on CAPTAIN MARVEL and rendered it utterly incoherent.
CAPTAIN MARVEL was cancelled soon afterward, and the character's only later highpoint was dying of cancer at the hands of Jim Starlin. THE DEFENDERS descended with greater and greater velocity into an utter qualitative abyss under such non-creative guiding spirits as Gerry Conway, Dave Kraft, Keith Giffen, and eventually, J.M. deMatteis and Don Perlin. Currently, DEFENDERS is enjoying a revival under Kurt Busiek and Erik Larsen, both of whom are self professed 'Englehart & Gerber fanatics', and the stuff is pretty decent, but at best, a pallid watery reflection of the Silver Age greatness that went before under the two Steves on the title. THE AVENGERS went up and down; the ups (under writers like Jim Shooter and, much later, Roger Stern and Bob Harras) were moderate foothills compared to the mountains previously scaled by Stan Lee and Steve Englehart, the downs, in the hands of folks like Dave Michelinie and Chris Claremont, led to excesses still loathed&reviled by large vocal contingents of fans as being among the worst stories in the history of comics. Only in the late 1990s, after a horrendous marketing gimmick called HEROES REBORN, did THE AVENGERS return to even a pale, shadowy vestige of the Englehart glories, under my one time buddy and self proclaimed Englehart fanatic (and slavish imitator) Kurt Busiek. DR. STRANGE I can't even remotely keep track of any more, but as I've noted in another article, Englehart's work on that title was seminal to Alan Moore's and Neil Gaiman's later work on further occult superhero titles in the same occult thematic/continuity stream, SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING, SANDMAN, and PROMETHEA.
***JEFF CLEM SEZ:
For the college football coach, see Steve Englehart (American football).
Steve Englehart (born April 22, 1947) is an American writer of comic books and novels. He is best known for his work at Marvel Comics and DC Comics in the 1970s and 1980s. His pseudonyms have included John Harkness and Cliff Garnett.
Steve Englehart majored in psychology at Wesleyan University, where he was a member of The Kappa Alpha Society, earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1969.
Englehart's first work in comics was as an art assistant to Neal Adams on a 10-page story by writer Denny O'Neil in Warren Publishing's black-and-white horror comics magazine Vampirella #10 (March 1971). After briefly serving as a member of the Crusty Bunkers, Englehart started working as a full-time writer. He began with a co-writing credit, with Gardner Fox, on the six-page, Englehart-drawn "Retribution" in Warren's Eerie #35 (Sept. 1971). Then, as Marvel editor Roy Thomas said in a 2007 interview, Englehart became
...a summer replacement or some such for [writer] Gary Friedrich. When Gary wanted to go away for a while, he got Steve, who was sort of a young aspiring artist when he came up to Neal [Adams]'s studio, and he ended up at Marvel as a proofreader. Then he wanted to write, and I believe he wrote a few pages of a sample script. Anyway, I gave him "The Beast" [in Amazing Adventures] to try out on, and that worked out pretty well.
Englehart said he had first done uncredited co-scripting on a number of stories:
When Gary Friedrich's Sgt. Fury #94 came in, de facto editor-in-chief Roy Thomas wanted major revisions in the script and had me do them. Evidently he liked the result, because right after that, Gary turned back a job he'd been holding onto - dialoguing a little story plotted by Al Hewetson - and Roy asked me to script it from scratch. That was [the seven-page] "Terror of the Pterodactyl" [drawn by Syd Shores, in Monsters on the Prowl #15 (Feb. 1972)] and my first credited job.... Over the next six months, even as my credited stories began to appear, I continued to do uncredited collaborations - sometimes by design and sometimes at the last minute."
This uncredited work included Friedrich's Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #97, Iron Man #45, and The Incredible Hulk vol. 2, #152, plus two romance comics stories and a Western tale. Englehart then wrote two romance stories under the pseudonym Anne Spencer, in Our Love #18 (Aug. 1972) and My Love #19 (Sept. 1972), and, under his own name, a standalone supernatural story in the anthology Journey into Mystery vol. 2, #1 (Oct. 1972) 
During his first credited superhero work, on a series starring erstwhile X-Men member the Beast in Amazing Adventures vol. 2, #12-17 (May 1972 - March 1973), Englehart integrated the Patsy Walker character, the star of a teenromantic-comedy series, into the Marvel Universe alongside the company's superheroes. He and artist Sal Buscema launched The Defenders as an ongoing series in August 1972 and introduced the Valkyrie to the team in issue #4 (Feb. 1973). Englehart has stated that he added the Valkyrie to the Defenders "to provide some texture to the group."
He wrote The Avengers from issue #105 (Nov. 1972) to #152 (Oct. 1976). During his time on that title, he wrote several major storylines including "The Avengers Defenders War" in issues #115-118 (Sept.-Dec. 1973) and The Defenders #8-11 (Sept.-Dec. 1973); "The Celestial Madonna" in #129-135 (Nov. 1974 - May 1975) and Giant-Size Avengers #2-4 (Nov. 1974 - May 1975); and "The Serpent Crown" in #141-144 (Nov. 1975 - Feb. 1976) and #147-149 (May–July 1976).
In the fall of 1972, Englehart and writers Gerry Conway and Len Wein crafted a metafictional unofficial crossover spanning titles from both major comics companies. Each comic featured Englehart, Conway, and Wein, as well as Wein's first wife Glynis, interacting with Marvel or DC characters at the Rutland Halloween Parade in Rutland, Vermont. Beginning in Amazing Adventures #16 (by Englehart with art by Bob Brown and Frank McLaughlin), the story continued in Justice League of America #103 (by Wein, Dick Dillin and Dick Giordano), and concluded in Thor #207 (by Conway and penciler John Buscema). As Englehart explained in 2010, "It certainly seemed like a radical concept and we knew that we had to be subtle (laughs) and each story had to stand on its own, but we really worked it out. It's really worthwhile to read those stories back to back to back — it didn't matter to us that one was at DC and two were at Marvel — I think it was us being creative, thinking what would be really cool to do."
Englehart had a potent run on Doctor Strange (originally with artist Frank Brunner, later with Gene Colan), in which Strange's mentor, the Ancient One, died, and Strange became the new Sorcerer Supreme. Englehart and Brunner, audaciously, also created a multi-issue storyline in which a sorcerer named Sise-Neg ("Genesis" spelled backward) goes back through history, collecting all magical energies, until he reaches the beginning of the universe, becomes all-powerful and creates it anew, leaving Strange to wonder whether this was, paradoxically, the original creation (Marvel Premiere #14). Editor-in-chief Stan Lee, seeing the issue after publication, ordered Englehart and Brunner to print a retraction saying this was not God but a god, so as to avoid offending religious readers. The writer and artist concocted a fake letter from a fictitious minister praising the story, and mailed it to Marvel from Texas; Marvel unwittingly printed the letter, and dropped the retraction order. Englehart's Doctor Strange #14 featured a crossover story with The Tomb of Dracula #44, another series which was being drawn by Gene Colan at the time. In Englehart's final story for the series, he sent Dr. Strange back in time to meet Benjamin Franklin.
Describing that time, Englehart said in 1998,
We'd rampage around New York City. There was one night when a bunch of us, including Jim Starlin, went out on the town. We partied all day, then did some more acid, then roamed around town until dawn and saw all sorts of amazing things (most of which ended up in Master of Kung Fu, which Jim and I were doing at the time).
Englehart and artist Starlin co-created the character Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, though they only worked on the early issues of the series. Englehart reconciled the existence of Captain America and sidekick Bucky in Marvel's 1950s precursor, Atlas Comics, an anomaly that had been ignored since Captain America's 1964 reintroduction to Marvel after having been in suspended animation since 1945. Englehart's newly retconned history stated that the 1950s Captain America and 1950s Bucky had been different characters. This was followed by an extended storyline of Steve Rogers becoming so profoundly disillusioned with the United States that he temporarily abandoned his Captain America identity to become Nomad until he decided to refocus his purpose as the defender of America's ideals, not necessarily its government. The Englehart/Sal Buscema run on the Captain America title saw the series become one of Marvel's top-sellers. In 2010, Comics Bulletin ranked Englehart's work on Captain America, The Avengers, and Doctor Strange fourth, eighth, and ninth, respectively, on its list of the "Top 10 1970s Marvels".
Following Gerry Conway's elevation to editor-in-chief in March 1976, Englehart had a falling-out with Marvel. He recalled in 2010 that Conway
...was a young guy in those days. He basically said, 'I'm the editor at Marvel. I can do whatever I want to do. I want to write The Avengers and I want to write The Defenders.' So he just took them. He took The Avengers away from me and he took The Defenders away from Steve Gerber. We said, 'This is not the collegial atmosphere that we've all been working under.' I quit. I got into Marvel because of the whole Bullpen, the whole ambience that you could see from the readers' side. When I came in the door, it was exactly like that inside. Marvel was a wonderful place to work. This was a big change, this kind of 'I have power' [mentality].
Conway, who left the editorial post after only "about a month-and-a-half," recalled circumstances differently:
[The Avengers] was perennially late to the printer, which was costing Marvel a lot of money. ... I asked Steve for a commitment to have his next plot for The Avengers in by Friday ... so that, if he didn't make it, I'd have time over the weekend to play a replacement issue. [When the plot did not arrive,] I called him, and he denied he'd ever made any commitment to delivery by Friday — as far as he was concerned, [artist] George [Pérez] didn't need the plot till Monday, so he wasn't going to deliver a plot until Monday. When I told him this wasn't what we'd agreed, so I was going to write a replacement plot myself ... Steve responded [that] a fill-in story would ruin the overall storyline and he accused me of trying to take over the book. He said if I insisted on a doing a fill-in, he'd quit. Well, if I [were] going to have any authority as an editor, I had to do what I said I'd do. ... So Steve quit The Avengers.
Englehart, in fact, planned to quit comics altogether and pursue novels, but DC Comics publisher Jenette Kahn persuaded him to come to DC. His only previous credited work for the company had been scripting the Batman story "Night of the Stalker!" in Detective Comics #439 (Feb–March 1974). "I said, 'Okay I'll fix Justice League [of America] for you, but I'm only going to do this for a year." To that end, he wrote Justice League of America #139–146 and 149–150, with artist Dick Dillin, and additionally wrote an eight-issue arc of Batman stories in Detective Comics #469–476, with pencilersWalt Simonson and Marshall Rogers. In this arc, he recreated the Batman as a pulp-oriented, dark character; restored the Joker's persona to that of a homicidal maniac; and introduced love interest Silver St. Cloud. Englehart claims this storyline was adapted as the first Batman film in 1989, with Englehart providing uncredited development. The Englehart and Rogers pairing was described in 2009 by comics writer and historian Robert Greenberger as "one of the greatest" creative teams to work on the Batman character. DC Comics writer and executive Paul Levitz noted that "Arguably fans' best-loved version of Batman in the mid-1970s, writer Steve Englehart and penciller Rogers's Detective run featured an unambiguously homicidal Joker...in noirish, moodily rendered stories that evoked the classic Kane-Robinson era." In their story "The Laughing Fish", the Joker is brazen enough to disfigure fish with a rictus grin, then expects to be granted a federal trademark on them, only to start killing bureaucrats who try to explain that obtaining such a claim on a natural resource is legally impossible. The Detective Comics storyline was reprinted in trade paperback in 1999 as Batman: Strange Apparitions. Englehart and Rogers had a short run on DC's revived Mister Miracle series as well.
His run on Justice League of America included another unofficial crossover between DC and Marvel in issue #142 by reworking his character Mantis into the DC Universe as a character named "Willow". Other contributions to the series were crafting a new origin for the team and the induction of the character Hawkwoman into the team's membership.
Englehart temporarily left comics at this juncture, moving to Europe before his first issue of Detective was published. During this time he wrote a fantasy/occult novel, The Point Man, which was republished in 2010.
A 25-page Englehart-Rogers story featuring Madame Xanadu, originally commissioned for Doorway to Nightmare, sat in inventory for years before being published as the one-shotMadame Xanadu in 1981, in DC's first attempt at marketing comics specifically to the "direct market" of fans and collectors.
Return to Marvel
In 1983, Marvel's creator-owned imprint Epic Comics published Coyote, a series he had earlier created at Eclipse Comics with Rogers, in collaboration with artist Steve Leialoha. Among those he collaborated with on the title was a young Todd McFarlane, whom Englehart hired on the basis of McFarlane's Coyote art samples, which was McFarlane's first comic book work. McFarlane would go on to become one of the industry's most prominent and successful artists and publishers, a toy-company founder, and a Grammy Award- and Emmy Award-winning animator.
Englehart returned to mainstream Marvel comics later that decade with stints on West Coast Avengers, the second Vision and the Scarlet Witch limited series (with artist Richard Howell), Silver Surfer (again with Rogers), and Fantastic Four (during which editorial disputes led to his using the pseudonym John Harkness, a name he had first used on his last issue of Mister Miracle.) Englehart was going to be the regular writer of Daredevil in 1986 but left after only one issue due to an editorial conflict.
Simultaneously, Englehart wrote DC Comics' Green Lantern, overseeing the title's name change to Green Lantern Corps. During that time he also wrote both the DC weekly crossover series Millennium (Jan–Feb 1988) and the first two issues of the spin-off The New Guardians. Issue #2 was notable for featuring the villain Snowflame, a superpowered human who derived his powers from cocaine.
In 1992, he co-created the Ultraverse comics universe for Malibu Comics and wrote Night Man and the superhero-team series The Strangers. Night Man was later adapted for a syndicatedtelevision series (NightMan) which ran for two seasons. Englehart wrote three episodes of the television series.
For Claypool Comics, he wrote the supernatural series Phantom of Fear City #1-12 (May 1993 - May 1995).
Throughout the remainder of the 1990s, he wrote a series of young adult books for Avon, including the DNAgers series (with his wife, Terry) and the Countdown series.Countdown to Flight was selected by NASA for its school curriculum on the Wright Brothers. He also worked in animation, with episodes of Streetfighter and G.I. Joe Extreme, and wrote one of the three episodes in Disney's Atlantis: Milo's Return film.
He wrote a screenplay for an unproduced film, Majorca. The screenplay was published as a book by Black Coat Press. He has admitted to writing the novel Hellstorm in the TALON Force series under the house pseudonym Cliff Garnett.
In the early 2000s, Englehart returned to comics briefly, and in 2005, he reunited with Rogers and Austin on the miniseriesBatman: Dark Detective, elements of which were adapted into the Batman film The Dark Knight.
In 2014, the film Guardians of the Galaxy starred his creation, Star-Lord.
In the mid-2000s, Englehart turned his 1980 novel, The Point Man, into Book Zero for a series concerning its hero, Max August. The first sequel, The Long Man, was published in 2009, The Plain Man in 2011, and The Arena Man in 2013. In the series, Max became immortal in 1985 and is dealing with the consequences two decades later in real time.
Englehart worked for some time as a professional astrologer, having developed an interest in astrology while working on Doctor Strange.
Englehart married Marie-Therese (Terry) Beach in 1975. They have two sons, Alex and Eric.
- 1977: nominated for Favourite Comicbook Writer at the Eagle Awards
- 1978: Favourite Writer at the Eagle Awards
- 1978: Roll of Honour at the Eagle Awards
- 1978: nominated for Favourite Single Story at the Eagle Awards for Detective Comics #472: I am the Batman with Marshall Rogers
- 1978: nominated for Favourite Continued Story at the Eagle Awards for Detective Comics #471-472 with Marshall Rogers
- 1979: Inkpot Award
- 1979: nominated for Best Comic Book Writer (US) at the Eagle Awards
- 1979: nominated for Best Continued Story at the Eagle Awards for Detective Comics #475-476 with Marshall Rogers
Comics work includes:
- Batman #311 (1979)
- The Batman Chronicles #19 (2000)
- Batman: Dark Detective #1-6 (2005)
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #109-111 (1998)
- Congorilla #1-4 (1992-1993)
- DC Comics Presents #8, 12, 88 (1979-1985)
- Detective Comics #439, 469-476 (1974-1978)
- Green Lantern, vol. 2, #188-200 (1985-1986)
- Green Lantern Corps #201-223 (1986-1988)
- Heroes Against Hunger #1 (1986)
- JLA Classified #22-25 (2006)
- JSA Classified #14-16 (2006)
- Justice League of America #139-146, 149-150 (1977-1978)
- Kamandi #51 (1977)
- Legends of the DC Universe #26-27 (2000)
- Madame Xanadu #1 (1981)
- Millennium #1-8 (1988)
- Mister Miracle #19-22 (1977-1978)
- New Guardians #1-2 (1988)
- Secret Origins, vol. 2, #7 (1986)
- Starfire #6-7 (1977)
- Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2 (1986)
- Weird War Tales #50, 60, 73 (1977-1979)
- World's Finest Comics #256 (1979)
- Break-Thru #1-2 (1993-1994)
- Freex #6 (1993)
- Hardcase #4 (1993)
- Mantra #12 (1994)
- Night Man #1-23 (1993-1995)
- Night Man: The Pilgrim Conundrum Saga #1 (1995)
- Prototype #5 (1993)
- Solitaire #3 (1994)
- Solution #5 (1994)
- Strangers #1-24 (1993-1995)
- Strangers: The Pilgrim Conundrum Saga #1 (1995)
- Ultraverse Origins #1 (1994)
- Ultraverse Premiere #0 (1993)
- Amazing Adventures, vol. 2, #12-17 (1972-1973)
- Amazing High Adventure #1-3 (1984-1986)
- Avengers #105-135, 137-144, 147-152 (1972-1976)
- Avengers: Celestial Quest #1-8 (2001-2002)
- Avengers: The Ultron Imperative #1 (2001)
- Captain America #153-167, 169-186 (1972-1975)
- Captain Marvel #33-46 (1974-1976)
- Daredevil #237 (1986)
- Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #1-2 (1974)
- The Defenders #1-11 (1972-1973)
- Doc Savage #1-5 (1972-1973)
- Doctor Strange, vol. 2, #1-2, 4-18 (1974-1976)
- Fantastic Four #304-333, Annual #20-21 (1987-1989)
- Fantastic Four: Big Town #1-4 (2001)
- Giant-Size Avengers #2-4 (1974-1975)
- Hellcat #1-3 (2000)
- Heroes for Hope Starring the X-Men #1 (1985)
- Hero for Hire #5-14, 16 (1973)
- The Incredible Hulk #159-171 (1973-1974)
- Journey into Mystery, vol. 2, #1 (1972)
- Justice #2-5, 7 (1986-1987)
- Kull the Destroyer #12-15 (1974)
- Marvel Fanfare #51 (1990)
- Marvel Premiere #9-14 (1973-1974)
- Marvel Preview #4 (1976)
- Marvel Westerns: Strange Westerns #1 (2006)
- Master of Kung Fu #17-19 (1974)
- Monsters on the Prowl #15 (1972)
- My Love, vol. 2, #16, 19 (1972)
- Night Man #∞, #1-4 (1995-1996)
- Night Man vs. Wolverine #0 (1995)
- Our Love Story #15, 18 (1972)
- Power Man #26 (1975)
- Savage Sword of Conan #2 (1974)
- Silver Surfer, vol. 3, #1-20, 22-31, Annual #1-2 (1987-1989)
- Skull the Slayer #4 (1976)
- Special Marvel Edition #15-16 (1973-1974)
- Super-Villain Team-Up #5-8 (1976)
- Thor Annual #5 (1976)
- The Vision and the Scarlet Witch, vol. 2, #1-12 (1985-1986)
- West Coast Avengers, vol. 2, #1-29, 31-37, 39, Annual #1-3 (1985-1988)
- Jurassic Park: Raptor #1-2 (1993)
- Jurassic Park: Raptors Attack #1-4 (1994)
- Jurassic Park: Raptors Hijack #1–4 (1994)
- ^Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide. Iola, Wisconsin. Archived from the original on October 30, 2010. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
- ^"Joker Panel Interview: Steve Englehart on The Laughing Fish". Rocket Llama Headquarters. August 9, 2009. Archived from the original on December 1, 2009. Retrieved October 8, 2009.
- ^Steve Englehart at the Grand Comics Database
- ^Theakston, Greg and Nowlan, Kevin, et al., at Bails, Jerry; Ware, Hames. "Crusty Bunkers". Who's Who of American Comic Books 1928-1999. Archived from the original on May 11, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
- ^Roy Thomas interview, Alter Ego #70, July 2007, p. 27
- ^ abEnglehart, Steve. "First Marvel Scripts I (uncredited)". Steve Englehart (official site). Archived from the original on April 16, 2009. Retrieved October 11, 2012.
- ^Englehart official site, "First Marvel Scripts II"
- ^Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1970s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 156. ISBN 978-0756641238.
- ^Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 156: "The Defenders moved into their own bimonthly comic book with The Defenders #1, written by Steve Englehart and penciled by Sal Buscema."
- ^DeAngelo, Daniel (July 2013). "The Not-Ready-For-Super-Team Players A History of the Defenders". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (65): 5–6.
- ^Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 158: "[The] Enchantress of Asgard, endowed Barbara Norriss with the consciousness, physical appearance, and superhuman powers of Brunnhilde, leader of the Valkyries."
- ^Englehart, Steve (n.d.). "The Defenders I". SteveEnglehart.com. Archived from the original on March 10, 2013. Retrieved March 10, 2013.
- ^Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 160: "Loki and Dormammu manipulated two super-teams into the Avengers-Defenders war, starting in The Avengers #116 and The Defenders #9 in October ."
- ^Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 166: "Writer Steve Englehart started an epic story line in which Kang the Conqueror tried to locate the Celestial Madonna."
- ^Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 169: "Writer Steve Englehart and veteran Avengers artist Don Heck presented the grand finale of the long-running 'Celestial Madonna' saga...Immortus presided over the double wedding of Mantis to the resurrected Swordsman, and the android Vision to the Scarlet Witch."
- ^Cooke, Jon B. (2000). Comic Book Artist Collection, Volume One. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 166. ISBN 978-1893905030.
- ^Larnick, Eric (October 30, 2010). "The Rutland Halloween Parade: Where Marvel and DC First Collided". ComicsAlliance. Archived from the original on December 6, 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
- ^Cronin, Brian (October 1, 2010). "Comic Book Legends Revealed #280". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on December 6, 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
- ^Amazing Adventures #16 (Jan. 1973), Justice League of America #103 (Dec. 1972), and Thor #207 (Jan. 1973) at the Grand Comics Database
- ^Frank Brunner, interview in Comic Book Artist #6, quoted in Comic Book Resources (Dec. 22, 2005), Cronin, Brian (December 22, 2005). "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #30". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved December 26, 2008.
- ^Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 175: "The great Marvel artist Gene Colan was doing superb work illustrating both Doctor Strange and The Tomb of Dracula. So it made sense for Strange writer Steve Englehart and Tomb author Marv Wolfman to devise a crossover story."
- ^Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 174: "The year 1976 was the 200th anniversary of the United States' Declaration of Independence. So it was appropriate that several of the major events in Marvel history that year dealt with political themes...In September, just before departing from Marvel for DC Comics, writer Steve Englehart sent Dr. Strange back through time to meet one of the men responsible for the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin."
- ^Comics: Between The Panels (Dark Horse Comics, 1998)
- ^Cooke, Jon B. (2005). "Everybody was Kung Fu Watchin'! The Not-So-Secret Origin of Shang-Chi, Kung-Fu Master!". Comic Book Artist Collection: Volume 3. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 6–7. ISBN 1-893905-42-X.
- ^Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 161: "Capitalizing on the popularity of martial arts movies, writer Steve Englehart and artist/co-plotter Jim Starlin created Marvel's Master of Kung Fu series. The title character, Shang-Chi, was the son of novelist Sax Rohmer's criminal mastermind Dr. Fu Manchu."
- ^Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 156: "In his first story line as Captain America and the Falcon writer, Steve Englehart revealed that an unnamed teacher had rediscovered the 'Super-Soldier serum' in the 1950s and he and a student used it to turn themselves into new versions of Captain America and Bucky."
- ^Englehart, Steve (w), Buscema, Sal (p), McLaughlin, Frank (i). "The Incredible Origin of the Other Captain America" Captain America 155 (November 1972)
- ^Englehart, Steve (w), Buscema, Sal (p), McLaughlin, Frank (i). "One Into Two Won't Go!" Captain America 156 (December 1972)
- ^Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 164: "Inspired by the real life Watergate scandals, writer Steve Englehart devised a story line about a conspiracy within the U.S. government."
- ^Englehart, Steve; Buscema, Sal (2005). Captain America and the Falcon: Secret Empire. Marvel Comics. p. 160. ISBN 978-0785118367.
- ^Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 167: "Shocked by learning the identity of Number One of the Secret Empire, Steve Rogers abandoned his Captain America role and adopted a new costumed identity, Nomad."
- ^Englehart, Steve; Buscema, Sal; Robbins, Frank (2007). Captain America and the Falcon: Nomad. Marvel Comics. p. 192. ISBN 978-0785121978.
- ^Amash, Jim (2010). Sal Buscema: Comics' Fast & Furious Artist. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 46. ISBN 978-1605490212.
- ^Sacks, Jason (September 6, 2010). "Top 10 1970s Marvels". Comics Bulletin. Archived from the original on August 3, 2013. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
- ^Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. New York, New York: Harry N. Abrams. p. 176. ISBN 0-8109-3821-9.
- ^ abEnglehart in Riley, Shannon E. (September 2010). "The Man Who Saved the Justice League of America". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (45): 14.
- ^Manning, Matthew K.; Dougall, Alastair, ed. (2014). "1970s". Batman: A Visual History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 116. ISBN 978-1465424563.
- ^McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
- ^Englehart, Steve (w), Simonson, Walt (p), Milgrom, Al (i). "The Master Plan of Dr. Phosphorus!" Detective Comics 470 (June 1977)
- ^Engehart, Steve (n.d.). "Batman". SteveEnglehart.com. Archived from the original on June 20, 2013.
- ^Greenberger, Robert; Manning, Matthew K. (2009). The Batman Vault: A Museum-in-a-Book with Rare Collectibles from the Batcave. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Running Press. p. 27. ISBN 0-7624-3663-8.
- ^Levitz, Paul (2010). "The Bronze Age 1970-1984". 75 Years of DC Comics The Art of Modern Mythmaking. Cologne, Germany: Taschen. p. 489. ISBN 9783836519816.
- ^Greenberger and Manning, p. 163: "In this fondly remembered tale that was later adapted into an episode of the 1990s cartoon Batman: The Animated Series, the Joker poisoned the harbors of Gotham so that the fish would all bear his signature grin, a look the Joker then tried to trademark in order to collect royalties."
- ^Englehart, Steve; Rogers, Marshall (1999). Batman: Strange Apparitions. DC Comics. p. 176. ISBN 978-1563895005.
- ^McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 175: "Writer Steve Englehart and artist Marshall Rogers, having garnered acclaim for Detective Comics, picked up Mister Miracle where the series had ended three years before."
- ^Cronin, Brian (September 15, 2005). "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #16!". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on April 21, 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
- ^McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 174: "Green Arrow thought he had learned the Justice League of America's origin back in issue #9...Now, he found inconsistencies in the story. Writer Steve Englehart and artist Dick Dillin revealed the truth as told by former JLA member J'onn J'onzz."
- ^Englehart, Steve (w), Dillin, Dick (p), McLaughlin, Frank (i). "Inner Mission!" Justice League of America 146 (September 1977)
- ^Dell Publishing, Aug. 1981, ISBN 0-440-12378-X.
- ^Tor Books, March 2010, ISBN 978-0-7653-2501-3
- ^Catron, Michael (June 1981). "DC Taps Fan Market for Madame Xanadu". Amazing Heroes (1): 25.
- ^ abVaughan, Kenton (Director, 2000). The Devil You Know: Inside the Mind of Todd McFarlane. National Film Board of Canada.
- ^Kershner, Jim (June 3, 1997). "'Spawn' Storm Spokane Artist Todd Mcfarlane Always Wanted To Create His Own Comic Book Series, And When He Finally Did, It Became The Hottest Title Of The Decade". The Spokesman-Review.
- ^McFarlane, Todd (November 2012). The Art of Todd McFarlane: The Devil's in the Details. Todd McFarlane Productions/Image Comics.